Lexus RX 450h F

Sport

Lexus RX 450h, 2019, front
Lexus RX 450h F Sport - even the graffiti's social distancing
Lexus RX 450h, 2019, front, action
Lexus RX 450h F Sport
Lexus RX 450h, 2019, side
Lexus RX 450h, 2019, rear
Lexus RX 450h, 2019, boot
Lexus RX 450h, 2019, rear seats
Lexus RX 450h, 2019, interior

WHEN the design gurus at Lexus were challenged with enhancing the company's flagship SUV the RX with greater elegance, but without diminishing its powerful image, they came up with a formula called ‘seductive strength'.

This eye-catching design theme was achieved through a more engaging exterior and by further improving on the car's interior packaging - a quality that's historically proved attractive to RX fans.

This model certainly has plenty of those - it's now been around for more than 30 years and is credited as being the pioneer of the present luxury SUV scene.

So much so that it has become the Japanese brand's best selling model worldwide.

Now, freshly updated for 2020, the RX success story looks certain to continue with a line-up that is exclusively powered by a self-charging full hybrid system.

Its powertrain features a 3.5-litre direct injection V6 petrol engine, which has a maximum output of 259bhp, while the total system output of engine and electric motor combined amounts to a hefty 308bhp.

Like all self-charging hybrids it regenerates kinetic energy when the driver brakes or lifts off the throttle, then stores it for use when needed.

And in the case of the RX its Drive Mode Select set-up lets the driver choose from different settings to suit their preferences or the driving conditions, each setting principally adjusting the suspension, engine output and throttle response.

It means that by analysing your driving style and speed the Lexus will make up its own mind when to engage the fully electric EV mode - which results in plenty of zero emissions city and suburban driving.

The combination of this and, in the case of the tested F Sport variant, the latest Adaptive Variable Suspension technology helps maintain a flat, comfortable ride even on very rough roads.

It's the closest you're going to get to a magic carpet ride - and at any speed.

As for other improvements, well the RX 450h is an unashamedly big and spacious ‘soft-roader' but with the elegance to give it serious catwalk cred.

Opting for F Sport trim elevates the car's sporty image courtesy of details like a jet black finish to the mesh of the vast spindle grille along with a new black frame that blends into the side of the front bumpers .

The seat upholstery is quilted, the leather shift lever and three-spoke steering wheel are also specific to the F Sport, there are 20-inch multi-spoke wheels and drilled aluminium pedals too.

And a world first is something called BladeScan - LED headlights that work by pulsing a beam of light every 50 microseconds to light the way up to 56 metres ahead.

There's also now full smartphone compatibility for Android and Apple devices, and for music lovers another little bonus.

Unlike the majority of car manufacturers Lexus has retained that dinosaur of modern technology - but an extremely welcome one - the CD player.

Played via the car's 12.3-inch Lexus multimedia set-up, and specifically the 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround System, the sound is sensational.

With a reputation for rock-solid reliability, plus safety gear like a radar system which can detect anything from pedestrians to cyclists, a sway warning, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert the RX 450h has got the lot.

FAST FACTS

Lexus RX 450h F Sport

Price: £55,205.

Mechanical: 313bhp, 3,456cc, 6cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving four wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 124mph

0-62mph: 7.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 35.3-35.7

Insurance Group: 42

C02 emissions: 134g/km

Bik rating: 31%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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