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WHAT? A LEXUS WITH A DIESEL EN­GINE? YOU BET!

4 x 4 Australia - - Driven -

LEXUS said it would never make a diesel given a diesel en­gine’s re­fine­ment, or lack thereof, is at odds with the Lexus pur­suit of ul­ti­mate perfection.

But that was then and now a Lexus with a diesel en­gine is a re­al­ity in the form of this LX450D, with Lexus look­ing to ex­tend its foot­print into the large pres­tige 4x4 mar­ket.

In cre­at­ing the LX450D, Lexus has taken its al­ready well-es­tab­lished (launched in 2008 and facelifted in 2015) LX570 and swapped its 5.7-litre petrol V8 and eight-speed pow­er­train for the 4.5-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 and six-speed pow­er­train of the LC200.

Then Lexus has stripped out the third-row seat­ing, sec­ondary 45-litre fuel tank and some of the petrol-pow­ered 570’s lux­ury equip­ment (see ‘What you Get’ side­bar). The 450d’s price tag has also been stripped back $9K from the LX570, which is some rec­om­pense.

POW­ER­TRAIN AND PER­FOR­MANCE

THE FA­MIL­IAR 4.5-litre twin-turbo V8 diesel from the LC200 claims a 200kw max­i­mum and, while peak torque also re­mains un­changed from the LC200’S 650Nm, it’s avail­able over a slightly wider rpm range.

Most ob­vi­ous in the driv­ing is the fact that the big 4.5-litre V8 diesel is much qui­eter, smoother and more re­fined in the LX than it is in the lat­est LC200.

Driven in iso­la­tion the LX450D hardly sounds diesel-like at all such is its gen­er­ally quiet and civil na­ture, but jump into the QX80, or more so the LX570, and you re­alise it’s still well short of petrol-en­gine re­fine­ment.

Nor can the LX450D match the per­for­mance of the two petrol V8s once they get into their stride; al­though, in gen­eral cut-and-thrust driv­ing, it gives noth­ing away thanks to the fact that it makes more power at lower en­gine speeds than the petrol V8s.

What’s more, it does the same job with gen­er­ally less revs on­board and doesn’t call for a lower gear­box ra­tio as quickly as the petrol V8s when asked to do some work. The fact that it has less ra­tios to play with also means less gear changes in gen­eral driv­ing.

ON-ROAD RIDE AND HAN­DLING

THE LX450D shares the sus­pen­sion of the LX570 (see ‘Be­spoke Sus­pen­sion’ LX570 side­bar), which means adap­tive, in­ter­linked and tune­able damp­ing, vari­able front spring rate, and hy­draulic ride-height con­trol. While there is no

KDSS, the gen­eral chas­sis lay­out with its lad­der frame, live rear axle and in­de­pen­dent front is based on the Toy­ota Land Cruiser 200.

Thanks to its so­phis­ti­cated damp­ing sys­tem, the chas­sis’s re­sponse in roll, pitch, ride and steer­ing can be ad­justed via the Drive Mode set­tings’ cen­tre­con­sole dial, which also al­ters the pow­er­train’s re­sponse. There are five set­tings (Eco, Com­fort, Nor­mal, Sport, and Sport+) where sharp­en­ing up the chas­sis also sharp­ens up the pow­er­train re­sponse.via the dial the driver can also ac­cess a pre­pro­grammed Cus­tom set­ting, where any chas­sis set­ting can be matched to any pow­er­train set­ting.

If all this sounds com­pli­cated it’s still easy enough to use and, ei­ther way, the Cus­tom mode is its sav­ing grace even if it may have been eas­ier just to have sep­a­rate di­als for the chas­sis and pow­er­train in the first place.

The 450d, like the LX570, also has vari­able-rate spring­ing at the front achieved via hav­ing the front dampers linked to gas reser­voirs, which al­lows the front sus­pen­sion to au­to­mat­i­cally soften up if it sud­denly en­coun­ters a se­vere bump in the road.

The LX450D cer­tainly rides smoothly enough, even on its 20s, and of­fers good body con­trol in terms of roll and pitch. But it’s not as sta­ble on a fast bumpy road as the QX80; al­though, this may be more to do with its live rear axle than the ef­fec­tive­ness of its adap­tive sus­pen­sion.

OFF-ROAD

THE Lx450d’s height-ad­justable sus­pen­sion, shared with the LX570, gives a 50mm lift at the front and 60mm lift at the rear when low-range is se­lected, or se­lected di­rectly by the driver. In ad­di­tion, the sus­pen­sion will au­to­mat­i­cally lift an­other 20mm if the ve­hi­cle grounds out while in Crawl mode.

The ex­tra height is most wel­come given the LX body com­pro­mises the ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles over an LC200.

The height-ad­justable sus­pen­sion is cer­tainly the dif­fer­ence be­tween the two LXS and the QX80 off-road, and both LXS will go where the In­finti won’t.

Plenty of wheel travel also helps the LX; al­though, like the LX570, the 4x4 sys­tem driver in­ter­face could be sim­pler.

CABIN, AC­COM­MO­DA­TION AND SAFETY

THE LX450D is only a five-seater, which could be a deal-breaker for some buy­ers. The up­side is there’s a use­ful in­crease in lug­gage space with­out the third row seats. As with the 570, the rear seat isn’t as wide as the QX80’S.

The 450d is beau­ti­fully de­tailed and fin­ished in­side and more than comfy up front, but misses out on some of the lux­ury kit of the LX570 and even the LC200 Sa­hara diesel for that mat­ter (see ‘What you Get’ side­bar). Like the other

ve­hi­cles here the LX450D hasn’t been ANCAP tested, but that doesn’t mean it’s not loaded with safety kit.

PRAC­TI­CAL­I­TIES

THE 450d’s rel­a­tively mod­est fuel con­sump­tion (13.8L/100km on test) sets it apart from the two thirsty petrol V8s here. For ev­ery two litres of diesel it con­sumes, the petrol V8s get through nearly three litres of un­leaded. The down­side is that the 450d has 45 litres less fuel ca­pac­ity than the LX570 and seven litres less than the QX80. So while it still com­fort­ably bet­ters the In­finiti for range, it doesn’t of­fer a range ad­van­tage over the LX570.

An­other prac­ti­cal note (not that Lexus would rec­om­mend it) is that the 18-inch wheels from a LC200 will fit, which gives a much wider choice in more prac­ti­cal tyres.

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