No tam­ing the beast

Warwickshire Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By Peter Keenan

IF you want a mo­tor that gets you no­ticed look no fur­ther than the Lexus RX 450h. The fu­tur­is­tic look­ing gi­ant with the gap­ing grille rolled on to the drive of Keenan Tow­ers – and into ev­ery con­ver­sa­tion I had with the neigh­bours that week.

It is wor­thy of comment as it is un­usual for them to be so stirred – used as they are to the many mo­tors that grace the front of my abode dur­ing the course of a year.

The fourth gen­er­a­tion of the RX is a bit of a beast with ra­zor sharp an­gles and an in-your-face de­sign mak­ing in­dif­fer­ence im­pos­si­ble.

The in­te­rior is pala­tial with nifty fix­tures and fit­tings plus plush, com­fort­able per­fo­rated leather seats that are heated up front, eas­ing back to let the driver exit and en­ter with the min­i­mum of fuss be­fore re­turn­ing to your favourite po­si­tion be­hind the wheel when the ig­ni­tion but­ton is pushed.

There are plenty of cubby holes, cup hold­ers and a cov­ered stor­age box be­tween the driver and front seat pas­sen­ger. There is lots of room for three adults in the back as there is no trans­mis­sion tun­nel and the rear seats re­cline.

The F Sport model fans the flames of de­sire with a truck­load of ex­tras in­clud­ing ded­i­cated front and rear bumpers plus snazzy 20-inch al­loy wheels, black door mir­ror hous­ings and a pow­ered tail­gate pro­vid­ing ac­cess to a de­cent load­space.

The cabin also fea­tures wire­less phone charger, Pre­mium Nav­i­ga­tion with 12.3-inch dis­play, spe­cial light­ing for the doors and in­stru­ment panel as well as drilled alu­minium ped­als.

One small quib­ble with the sat nav was the over-ac­tive con­trol knob which shoots the cur­sor around the screen like a Rus­sian ath­lete on drugs when you are try­ing to tap in a des­ti­na­tion.

The at­ten­tion to de­tail is im­pres­sive and ex­ten­sive with lit­tle left to chance. An ex­am­ple is the dual-speed elec­tric win­dows which slow be­fore fi­nally clos­ing to re­duce noise.

When it comes to power the RX of­fers two op­tions – a full hy­brid sys­tem fea­tur­ing a 3.5-litre V6 petrol en­gine com­bined with an elec­tric mo­tor in the 450h, and a 2.0-litre tur­bocharged petrol unit in the 200t.

The hy­brids all boast four-wheel drive of­fer­ing con­fi­dence-boost­ing lev­els of grip in all con­di­tions, while the en­try-level 200t S model has front-wheel drive with mod­els above spec­i­fied with 4x4 ca­pa­bil­ity.

Lexus is the lux­ury off­shoot of mo­tor man­u­fac­turer Toy­ota – pi­o­neer of hy­brid power. So it is no sur­prise the hy­brid tech­nol­ogy be­stowed on the RX 450h is both pow­er­ful and, more im­por­tantly, re­li­able.

The sys­tem has been re-en­gi­neered so out­put is raised to 308bhp which al­lows this big beast to be pretty nim­ble, achiev­ing 62mph from a stand­ing start in 7.7 sec­onds. Fuel econ­omy is sur­pris­ingly good for such a big mo­tor with Lexus claim­ing a fig­ure in ex­cess of 50mpg, while car­bon diox­ide emis­sions are also de­cent for some­thing with a V6 un­der the bon­net at 127g/km.

En­gine re­sponses can be al­tered via a ro­tary dial next to the driver al­low­ing Eco, Nor­mal or Sport to be se­lected depend­ing on your mood.

Power is noth­ing with­out con­trol though so Lexus en­sure the F Sport model fea­tures sports-tuned elec­tric power steer­ing, an adap­tive vari­able sus­pen­sion, a dy­nam­ics man­age­ment sys­tem plus low-speed cor­ner­ing lights.

The all-en­com­pass­ing Lexus Safety Sys­tem Plus helps to keep you out of trou­ble as well as of­fer­ing pro­tec­tion when an ac­ci­dent is un­avoid­able.

Yes, the RX 450h F Sport does cost £53,995, but you are get­ting plenty of SUV for your many bucks.

TEST DRIVE LEXUS RX 450H F SPORT

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