LEXUS INTRODUCES THE NEW RX 450h
- Lexus’s full hybrid luxury SUV gains new frontal styling, revised interior design and new equipment features
- Sport mode added to Lexus Hybrid Drive system
- Introduction of new F Sport model with distinguishing style elements inside and out, plus lateral performance dampers
- World debut at the Geneva motor show, on sale in the UK this summer.
The new Lexus RX
Lexus unveiled a new RX 450h at the Geneva motor show, displaying a stronger frontal styling, a redesigned interior with a wider choice of colours and trims, a new-look instrument binnacle and a second-generation of Lexus’s Remote Touch Interface.
Performance has been sharpened, too, with the addition of a new Sport mode to the Lexus Hybrid Drive system, in addition to the established Normal, Eco and EV (all-electric) modes. Motorists can also now use a switch to shift to EV driving when they want to make the most of their vehicle’s zero emissions potential.
The RX range gains a sportier dimension with the introduction of an F Sport version. Designed to attract new customers to the model, Lexus expects that it will account for up to 30 per cent of its European RX sales. The F Sport will be distinguished by dedicated styling elements outside and in, together with adjustments to its dynamic performance.
Lexus created the concept of the luxury SUV with the launch of the original RX in 1998 and subsequently has continued to revise and improve the model, most notably by introducing full hybrid power – a first in that part of the car market – in 2005. It remains a key model for Lexus, its European sales volume second only to the CT 200h.The new RX will go on sale in this summer.
The new Lexus RX 450h is defined by its frontal styling, with visually stronger elements that are part of a new design direction that is strengthening the Lexus family identity, sharing cues already seen in the CT 200h and the soon-to-be-launched new GS saloon.
Like the new GS, the RX adopts a distinctive ‘spindle’ shaped grille arrangement, in which the upper and lower grilles are combined into a single element that bridges the bumper. The impact of this design is made stronger with black horizontal bars being used in the lower grille.
The clear lens headlamps are set on a higher plane that the grille – an established design touch that is unique to Lexus – and are underscored by integrated LED daytime running lights in the familiar Lexus arrowhead motif.
The rear lamps also have clear lenses and have been redesigned with an emphasis on sweeping horizontal lines.
UK specifications are still to be determined, but Lexus has produced a new 19-inch alloy wheel design in addition to the current 18 and 19-inch rims.
The new RX gains extra colour choices and trim finishes for the interior, together with a new steering wheel, reconfigured instrument binnacle and a second generation Remote Touch Interface to select and adjust a series of vehicle functions.
A Saddle Tan colour-way will join the established Ivory, Black and Light Grey interiors, along with a Black and White-Grey combination exclusive to the F Sport model. A Dark Grey glass trim is added on the feature grade, together with a steel-silver finish for the F Sport.
The premium quality semi-aniline leather sets itself apart from the smooth leather finish with new diamond-shaped perforations, and with thicker thread in stronger colours used for stitching detail on the seats. On the dashboard there is a new matt silver trim insert above the glovebox.
The profile of the new steering wheel varies around its circumference, making it more comfortable to use.
The new-look instrument binnacle has redesigned Hybrid system Indicator with clearly delineated Charge, Eco and Power zones. The ambient illumination changes between blue or red according both to driving conditions and the drive mode selected.
Neat changes have been made to the centre console box to make it more practical. The lid opens wider for easier access, while inside, the USB port and Aux socket have been moved nearer to the top and there is a new closable door and removable divider plate.
Lexus’s Remote Touch Interface enters a second generation with changes that increase its user-friendliness. It is now equipped with a slide-type joystick control mechanism, which works much like a computer mouse, and the ‘enter’ command can be made simply by pushing the controller.
The LED display has also been improved to offer a multi-screen function. That means three types of information can be displayed simultaneously and controlled independently, such the map, vehicle information, audio, navigation input, air conditioning and incoming calls.
Drive Mode Select
The new RX 450h gains a Sport drive mode for its full hybrid system, in addition to the established Normal, Eco and EV models. This further improves the car’s performance and dynamic abilities.
Sport mode is tuned to deliver greater power from the electric motor, giving the RX 450h stronger performance and agility. It modifies the throttle and electric power steering settings for faster responses, and also programmes less intrusive operation of the Vehicle Stability control and Traction Control, so the driver can more fully exploit the car’s dynamic abilities.
The different character of driving in Sport mode is reflected in a change to red ambient lighting for the instrument panel when it is selected
The driver can now select the all-electric, zero emissions EV mode by using a switch on the dashboard; other modes are controlled using a selector on the steering wheel.
From start-up and speed of less than 31mph, the RX 450h automatically runs in EV mode.
New F Sport grade
The RX 450h gains a new F Sport grade, targeting new customers who want sportier looks and sharper handling; in Europe, it is expected to account for up to 30 per cent of future RX sales.
The exterior has an even stronger look with a deeper, more vertical bumper and a larger lower section for the spindle grille design. The lower bumper incorporates a full-width spoiler, with foglights set deep into its flared edges. Both upper and lower grilles have a special F Sport mesh design.
In profile the F Sport is distinguished by its new 19-inch alloys and wing badges.
In the cabin there is a Black and White-Grey colour scheme: smooth black leather upholstery with white-grey perforations and contrasting stitching. Steel-silver-colour trim inserts and a black roof lining help give the cabin more of a cockpit feel.
The RX 450h F Sport benefits from a lateral performance damper system that absorbs and minimises unwanted body vibration, gives a more linear steering feel and contributes to better ride comfort.
In place of conventional fixed bracing, the system uses a performance damper that connects the left and right front suspension towers, and a rear damper connecting each side of the rear lower back panel.
Constructed like a typical monotube suspension damper, these units adjust in line with variations in the body rigidity, noise and vibration of their surroundings to give the best possible absorption of body torsion, flexure and fine vibrations.
They reduce floor vibration across a wide frequency range, limit body deformation by preventing displacement of the front suspension towers, and even cut the level of white noise in the audio system.
Minuscule – micron-sized – vibrations are hard to measure, even using computers, but they make their presence felt in slight discomfort when turning the steering wheel, and minute deviations in the way the vehicle behaves when accelerating in a straight line. Their elimination gives the RX a new dimension of steering response, agility and ride comfort.
The RX 450h F Sport also gains a steering wheel-mounted paddle shift control for the six-speed automatic transmission, which lets the driver move to the system’s fixed gear range without having to move the gear selector from D to S range.