By Patrick James on 2019-01-20 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Lexus RX 450h F
NOW in its fourth incarnation, the Lexus RX was claimed as the world's first luxury SUV when it was launched 1998 and is historically its best-selling model worldwide.
The new RX retains its mixture of sharp creases and curves and now offers revamped hybrid technology and the Lexus Safety System+ package of advanced safety and driver assistance features on all versions
The big Lexus is slightly longer to give more legroom, and still has bags of luxury and power, but also offers cutting edge hybrid technology to deliver the holy grail of potent performance combined with good fuel economy and low carbon dioxide emissions, certainly for the size of vehicle.
The engine/electric motor set up boasts massive power, which is needed to propel what is a big lump of metal along.
It is a striking looking motor, particularly in this F Sport guise, with sporty, dynamic exterior styling that features trapezoidal headlamps, mesh grille, lower spoiler, satin chrome under-run and black door mirrors, plus 20-inch, multi-spoke alloy wheels.
To the rear, the L-shaped LED light clusters extend forward from the tailgate into the rear wings and rear pillars have a blacked-out gloss finish to create a floating roof effect.
Inside the fixtures and fittings scream luxury with attention to the finest detail obvious throughout the light and airy cabin.
This model features an eight-inch LCD with a large circular gauge that presents both a tachometer and a digital speed indicator. There are F Sport seats upholstered in perforated leather and drilled, non-slip aluminium accelerator and brake pedals and footrest.
Navigation, phone and other audio functions are also controlled from here the LCD via what can be quite a fiddly touchpad, while and a wireless phone charger in the centre console allows compatible smartphones to be charged without using a cable.
The instrument cluster has large gauges, with a multi-information display positioned between the energy display gauge and the speedometer. The ambient illumination changes according to the drive mode selected - blue for Eco and Normal and red for Sport S and Sport S+
The only thing that feels oddly cheap is the drive selector, but otherwise it's comfortable and luxurious place to be.
On the road, the 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine linked with two powerful electric motors and four wheel drive capability where required.
This combination delivers excellent performance with smooth acceleration through the CVT transmission. Floor the pedal and the car leaps forward, hitting 60mph in just 7.7 seconds.
Quieten it all down and the big vehicle drops into virtually silent electric power mode only. A claimed 47.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 134g/km means lowish road tax and benefit in kind charges.
Not only that road and wind noise are virtually absent, and for such vehicle, handling characteristics are good.
Like all SUVs, it is a practical vehicle and has generous load space with the seats in place of 496 litres. The cargo space can be increased to provide enough room for four large suitcases or multiple golf bags. A space saver spare wheel and jack are provided as standard, stored in an area beneath the boot floor.
The single touch tumble system allows the rear seats to be folded or split 40-20-40 and create masses of extra space.
On high spec models the air suspension can also be lowered so heavy objects can be lifted out more easily, while the tailgate is electrically powered.
Lexus RX 450h F Sport
Mechanical: 295bhp, 3,456cc, 6cyl petrol engine and electric motors driving four wheels via automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 124mph
0-62mph: 7.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.8
Insurance Group: 41
C02 emissions: 134g/km
Bik rating: 27%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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