Now Lexus is a brand who have been obsessed about technology, especially hybrids and debuted it first ever green machine way back in 2005 in the form of the RX crossover. The RX crossover itself dates back to 1998 and since then it has been one of the most popular luxury SUV’s being sold across the globe. It’s a known fact that India loves its SUV’s and something like the RX which offers a distinctive style, plenty of technology and an exclusive badge is sure to tick the right boxes. We drive it around picturesque Ooty to see what it offers.
The RX definitely grabs eyeballs. While a lot of people went gaga about its looks, it took us a little time to wrap our eyes around those lines. The design is unique and it feels like the designer was given a massive chunk of metal and he pretty much went to town carving the RX out of it. The spindle grille along with the slashed headlights are family traits, but look fantastic on the RX. Another element that adds to the unique style is the floating roof that has been incorporated really well. The only fly in the ointment are those plain-Jane 7-spoke alloys which look quite out of place in a car as stylish as the RX.
The RX in India will be available in two trims, Luxury and F Sport and we got to drive the latter. Both these cars are exactly the same mechanically but Lexus has provided a sportier set-up in the F Sport. Step inside and you are greeted by an extremely futuristic cabin. The F Sport had black and red interiors which looked and felt great. Like the outside there’s plenty of creases cuts and lines on the inside as well. The seats in the F Sport variant gets additional bolstering to keep you in place and at the same time offer brilliant support all-around. The dash itself is a piece of art and the combination of wood and brushed aluminium feels fantastic. In fact it looks so good that you just have to touch and feel it. While it does not feel as well built as some of its competition, there is no denying the fit and finish. The 12.3 inch screen is devoid of touch but looks great and is controlled by a joystick that feels a little fussy to use at first but you get used to it.
The F Sport also gets a special meters that sports a large analogue tachometer and a digital speedometer and just in case you need to show-off some more there is also an 8-inch TFT screen displaying a G sensor with steering angle along with accelerator opening and brake hydraulic pressure bars. Now that is some fancy stuff. The F Sport like the others also gets the fantastic 15-speaker Mark Levinson audio system that really feels like a live band playing inside the car. The RX also gets a unique way of opening the boot. There is a sensor in the Lexus emblem and all you need to do it wave your hands over the emblem and voila, the boot opens. It’s pretty cool and along with being convenient is a great show-of feature too.
The RX is powered by a 3.5 litre V6 hybrid power plant that churns out 259bhp @ 6000rpm and a max torque of 335Nm @ 4600 rpm. Along with the 650V electric motor, the RX gets a combined output of 308bhp. On the road, once you press the EV button and engage the electric motor, the RX takes off with zero noise at all. In fact it’s so eerily silent that my colleague Ameya and I were literally whispering inside the car. Even the transition from electric to petrol is extremely smooth and the petrol motor by itself is extremely refined.
On the go the RX feels quite brisk. The F Sport also gets paddle shifters that is linked to an E-CVT transmission. You also get 5 modes to play with depending on how you intend to drive the car and depending on the mode the RX adjusts the steering, suspension and throttle response. The CVT’s rubber band effect only came into effect when we mashed the throttle with the revs rising quicker than the actual speed but other than that it pretty mush felt like a torque converter under normal usage. The RX feels most intense in the Sport S+ mode and this is also because the F Sport comes additionally equipped with a sound generator that boosts the sound pressure level in the engine air intake for a sportier engine note. While we enjoyed hustling it around the tight corners the ride does get a little unsettling and noisier in Sport S+. In Eco/Normal mode though the suspension feels quite supple and along with the 65 profile tyres, the adjustable dampers work very well offering a comfortable ride.
To deal with the occasional tricky conditions you also get electric four-wheel drive that uses a rear motor which operates independently from the front motor and distributes the power optimally. How effectively it works though is something we still have to see.
|Variant||RX F Sport|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||308 bhp @ 6000 RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||335 Nm @ 4600 RPM|
|Length mm||4890 mm|
|Width mm||1895 mm|
|Height mm||1685 mm|
|Wheelbase mm||2790 mm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||65 litres|
|Tyre size||Front - 235 / 65 R18
Rear - 235 / 65 R18
|Mark Lewinson Music System||Yes|
|Touchless power back door||Yes|
|12.3-inch infotainment screen||Yes|
|Panoramic glass roof||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp)||400 bhp @ 6000 RPM||362 bhp @ 5500 RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm)||550 Nm @ 1350 RPM||520 Nm @ 2000 RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||75||93|
|Tyre size||Front - 235 / 60 R18||Front - 275 / 45 R21|
|Rear - 255 / 55 R18||Rear - 315 / 40 R21|
The RX 450h is priced at Rs. 1.09 crore and for that you get one of the best looking SUV’s around, snazzy interiors, an extremely refined hybrid powertrain, a live band of a music system, 10 airbags and then some. Being the CBU, the RX 450h goes up against bigger and faster competition like the much more powerful Porsche Macan and the GLE coupe. And while the RX is not as accomplished as it mentioned German rivals it does have the advantage of being unique and at the same time exclusive. The hybrid technology could be another big draw for the technology obsessed. So while the RX loses out if you compare it directly to the competition it does have the advantage of being a stand-alone niche product as well. Get yours if you’re a tree hugger who wants to stand out and isn’t on a budget.