IN the world of hybrid power Lexus was a frontrunner from early days and has maintained its edge with vehicles like the latest RX 450h.
This is the plush SUV that has played a part in the transformation of the Toyota Corporation from a one-time purveyor of sensible vehicles for those who did not want flash styling or ultimate power into a streetwise choice in high-image vehicles.
In fact, Lexus and the rest of the Toyota range in terms of reliability, is one of the soundest choices on the market and there is a raft of awards prove it.
So these days a Lexus has got the lot - power, presence and kudos, underpinned by astonishing build quality.
Therefore, when the time came to revamp the old Lexus RX 450, the decision was made to flash the dash in terms of looks and power.
The ‘everyday ok' look of the previous model was overtaken by a sweeping SUV styling with a big grinning grille, origami angles and performance that can pitch in with the best of the rest at the SUV bake-off.
This vehicle was the powerful and fast RX 450h F Sport featuring a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine matched to an electric motor with 124mph on tap and a 0-62mph sprint factor of 7.7 seconds.
Transmission is via an electric CVT system and on the combined cycle 51.4mpg is on the cards.
The RX 450h is a full hybrid, with the electric motor always operating. The petrol engine will stop and start at any vehicle speed depending on conditions.
An interesting feature is the hill start assist programme. When you come to a halt on an incline press the brake pedal firmly until you hear a beep. The brakes will stay on for around two seconds so that you do not have to use the handbrake for hill starts.
This is the fourth generation of Lexus's RX luxury SUV and in addition to hybrids like the Â£52,995 F Sport there is a 200t turbo petrol which is conventionally powered and features two-wheel drive.
With its longer wheelbase, improved interior space and higher levels of luxury the latest RX 450h is where Lexus should be in this upmarket, and closely contested sector.
The RX F Sport delivers sportier styling and performance and comfort is exceptional with electronically controlled self-levelling, four-position air suspension.