Presidential luxury

from Lexus

Lexus RX 200t, front
Lexus RX 200t, front
Lexus RX 200t, front
Lexus RX 200t, front
Lexus RX 200t, side
Lexus RX 200t, rear
Lexus RX 200t, rear
Lexus RX 200t, interior

HERE is a sobering thought. One morning this year we may wake to find the leader of the free world is a man who could possibly think a fence along the white cliffs of Scotland is an acceptable way to keep undesirables out of his golf resort in Aberdeenshire-shire.

And here is another one. The Lexus RX has been with us now for neigh on twenty years.

The US President at the time of its launch was William Jefferson Clinton, Donald Trump had normal hair and Hillary still stayed in the room whenever Bill played Stand By Your Man. He was a year away from his attempt to redefine sex.

Nice try, Bill but no cigar.

Launched in Japan in 1997 it was first known as the Toyota Harrier but went global as the Lexus RX in 1998, a big hit in the US of A.

Of course the Lexus name was not new to us. We had already experienced the gold plated, thirst monster LS and its party trick of allowing a rich man to balance a shiny sovereign on the engine without the coin falling off, so smooth was its tick over.

Here was luxury teamed with technical trickery previously unseen. Delights such as memory seats and a steering wheel which came out to greet you like a happy terrier. It had more buttons than Cadburys and the air of mystery that comes with a new badge. Ask Infinity.

It was competing with Jaguars offering all the reliability of a candyfloss footbridge and large Fords modelled on the USS Nimitz. The best that could be said of the Range Rover of the time was that it was not a bad place to wait for the AA to turn up.

Latterly we have come to think of the RX in its hybrid clothes, a smart, expensive way to dodge the sting of benefit in kind taxes while offering meaningful 4x4 ability. Now there is a new way to enjoy luxury in a crowded and competitive SUV sector, the turbo petrol RX 200t.

Yes, quite right, not a diesel but a two-litre petrol engine which, while costing more at the pumps, 30mpg is a reality, brings with it whisper-quiet refinement. Even if 9.5 seconds to 62mph is hardly the future of interstellar travel.

Major benefits lie elsewhere. Push the start button and the silence is as golden as in the hybrid. Pull away and the six-speed automatic gearbox continues the theme right to the end of even the longest motorway journey.

That is not to say that some heavy footwork shows the Lexus to be a laggard. It is not. Handling is sure, tight and responsive. There is fun to be had in them there hills.

The F Sport model with every conceivable fixture costs £49,000. For that you get a quality leather finish, Premium Navigation wireless phone charging and all the usual expectations including ventilated seats. Well worth a mention is the information screen. Where others have you squinting this is as big as a pub TV and excellent to work with.

It is a good place to sit; a classy sweeping dash and good visibility. The seats are among the best out there, too and the electrically operated steering wheel helps set the car up for maximum comfort.

There are some areas people will question. I love the brash, origami-like styling. Others will not. And there is no seven-seat option for the gregarious among you. The raked rear affects load space but the RX still passed the patent ‘does the dog like it' test.

Travelogue paragraphs are not my favourite but we took the RX to the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales while the snow was still on the mountains even if spring was in the air.

This I can recommend as a location to glide about in a car like the RX, secure in the knowledge that any terrain you have access to can be coped with. The roads in April are still empty of tourists and there is another huge bonus.

To the best of my knowledge Donald Trump has never heard of it.


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