Lexus RX 200t F

Sport

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

COMPACT SUVs and crossovers may be the current boom area in the car industry - but there will always be those for whom bigger is better.

Those folk might want to take a look at the new, fourth-generation Lexus RX.

Hitting the road at the start of this year and backed by high-profile campaign featuring Hollywood film star Jude Law, the RX has really grown in stature.

Lexus' flagship 4x4 is now 12 centimetres longer and a centimetre wider with a 5cm longer wheelbase and, although overall height remains the same, there is an extra centimetre of ground clearance too.

And not only is the new RX bigger, it is bolder.

A fresh look puts much more emphasis on sharper lines and angles while at the front Lexus' trademark ‘spindle' grille takes on really muscular and imposing proportions.

And F Sport models such as the one I drove make an even stronger visual statement courtesy of a back-finished mesh treatment to that grille, bespoke bumpers, and black door mirrors while the F Sport White paint job is exclusive to the grade and, obviously, much sportier than the other whites available.

Inside F Sport cars benefit from perforated leather upholstery with matching trim, aluminium-finish inserts and drilled, sports-style drilled aluminium pedals.

Lexus, of course, are known for their commitment to hybrid power but RX buyers now have the option of a petrol engine too.

The RX 200t is propelled very nicely by the latest addition to the Japanese marque's engine range - a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit kicking out 235bhp.

While not as potent as the re-engineered hybrid RX 450h, which pairs a 3.5-litre V6 power pack with an electric motor, the turbo helps this unit shift the hefty SUV from 0-62mph in a still respectable 9.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 124mph.

Paired with an unintrusive, six-speed automatic transmission progress is smooth and refined while improvements to the chassis, suspension and steering all mean that the RX handles pretty well for a car of its expanded proportions. Long distance cruising is relaxed and effortless but the RX is surprisingly polite in urban traffic too.

Its sheer size means you'll need to take care when manoeuvring in town but Lexus have at least included front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera as standard across the range - so you'll know when you get too close to something.

Shunning hybrid power does have an effect on running costs, with the RX 200t only able to claim 34.9 miles per gallon on average while carbon emissions of 189g/km will put it in the top company car tax brackets.

You can improve those figures slightly by opting for front-wheel drive, which is available only with the 2.0 turbo - but it also means you'll have to settle for entry-level S-grade spec too.

With prices starting just shy of forty grand and going up to well north of £50,000, RX buyers will expect plenty of the luxury Lexus is renowned for - and they won't be disappointed.

The cabin is finished to a high standard with premium grade materials and the extra size means interior space is improved. Head and legroom is generous all round, with the increase in wheelbase plus a lowered, flat floor meaning that three will fit comfortably across the back.

With top-grade Premier trim available only on hybrid models, F Sport represents the flagship standard for those opting for the RX 200t. They won't be too inconvenienced, though, with plenty of high-tech kit and creature comforts.

An imposing 12.5-inch infotainment screen dominates the dashboard and there's also electronically adjustable heated and ventilated front seats, satnav, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth, DAB radio, automatic lights and wipers, a five-mode drive selector, powered tailgate with hands-free opening and keyless entry and ignition.

FAST FACTS

Lexus RX 200t F Sport

Price: £48,995

Mechanical: 235bhp, 1,988cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four wheels via 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:124mph

0-62mph: 9.5 seconds

Combined MPG:34.9

Insurance Group: 36

C02 emissions: 189g/km

Bik rating:35%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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