- World’s first high performance hybrid SUV
- Hybrid Synergy Drive® combines 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine with front and rear electric motors
- Rear electric motor enables E-four electric four-wheel drive operation
- Maximum system output 269bhp
- Seamless acceleration from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds with electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT)
- Lowest fuel consumption in premium petrol SUV market – combined figure 34.9mpg
- Carbon dioxide emissions 192g/km
- Nitrogen oxides emissions reduced to near zero, far below Euro IV standards
- Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) coordinates active safety and handling systems for optimum performance
- Electronically Controlled Brake system (ECB) improves braking performance and brake energy regeneration
- Nine airbags as standard, including driver’s knee airbag
- Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) improves headlamp illumination through bends
- Class-leading aerodynamics aid stability and NVH performance
- Built exclusively at Lexus’s award-winning Kyushu plant in Japan
- Available in three grades – RX 400h, SE and SE-L
- All models equipped with multi-zone climate control, cruise control, rear privacy glass and 18-inch alloy wheels
- SE models gain automatic headlamps and wipers, AFS lighting, leather upholstery, heated front seats and power-operated tailgate
- SE-L models feature 11-speaker Mark Levinson® premium hi-fi, in-car entertainment DVD system, Lexus Navigator satellite navigation with Rear Park Assist Monitor and Bluetooth® connectivity
- On-the-road prices from £35,480
- On sale in the UK since 15 June
- BIK company car taxation rate 23 per cent in 2005/6, 22 per cent in 2006/7
INTRODUCING THE NEW LEXUS RX 400h
The Lexus RX 400h is the world’s first premium SUV to feature a hybrid power system. It achieves a unique position in the market by not only delivering the low exhaust emissions and high fuel efficiency that are well-established characteristics of hybrid power, but also by providing the high performance that has until now typically been the preserve of large-capacity petrol engine models.
In spite of its use of a wide range of advanced technologies, the RX 400h remains true to all the core principles of Lexus with no compromise in terms of luxury, quiet and seamless operation, durability and refinement.
HYBRID SYNERGY DRIVE®
The RX 400h’s Hybrid Synergy Drive® system combines a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine with a 165bhp front electric motor that has a world’s-best power to weight and volume ratio, a high voltage battery and a generator. A second electric motor at the rear axle gives the vehicle an electric four-wheel drive capability – E-Four – that is automatically engaged when required.
In any journey, the system will operate in different modes in order to maintain the maximum efficiency, with power from the engine, the electric motors or a combination of both. Whenever the vehicle comes to a halt, the engine will automatically be switched off to minimise fuel consumption.
The RX 400h can run on its electric motors alone at start-up and low to mid-range speeds, which cuts exhaust emissions to zero. In normal driving conditions, a power split device will divide output from the engine between driving the wheels and powering the generator, which in turn charges the high-voltage battery. This means the vehicle never has to be off the road to be charged.
Further energy is gained during braking or declaration with the electric motors operating as high output generators to recover kinetic energy that would usually be lost as heat and storing it as electricity in the high-voltage battery.
Maximum output from the Hybrid Synergy Drive® is 269bhp, which gives the RX 400h a top speed of 124mph and 0-62mph acceleration in 7.6 seconds. Progress is seamless, thanks to the electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT). In official combined cycle driving the vehicle returns 34.9mpg, a better figure than any of its premium petrol SUV rivals and on a par with the very best diesel performance. In terms of exhaust emissions, the vehicle complies with Euro IV emissions standards and produces 192g/km of carbon dioxide. Nitrogen oxides emissions are reduced to near-zero.
The RX 400h is the first SUV to benefit from Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), a Lexus-developed system which coordinates operation of the ABS, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), traction control (TRC) and vehicle stability control (VSC) to maximise their performance capability.
VDIM triggers the systems when it detects the vehicle is nearing the limit of its performance,instead of them coming into play individually when that limit has been reached. This means their intervention is less obtrusive and the vehicle is kept under control more smoothly.
VDIM also integrates the electric power steering system, adjusting steering torque to make it easier for the driver to return the vehicle to the correct course. The RX 400h is equipped with a ‘by-wire’ electronically controlled brake system (ECB) and brake assist (BA).
To improve the driver’s vision through bends, SE and SE-L versions of the RX 400h are equipped with an Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS). This swivels the headlamp beam in accordance with vehicle speed and turning angle in order to provide better illumination.
All versions of the RX 400h are equipped with nine airbags as standard. These include a driver’s knee airbag and large capacity Thorax-Abdomen-Pelvis side airbags
DESIGN AND EQUIPMENT
The RX 400h is almost identical to the RX 300 model, sharing the same aerodynamically-efficient design that provides excellent stability and keeps wind noise levels to a minimum. A few details set the RX 400h apart, including a revised front grille designed to aid cooling of the Hybrid Synergy Drive® system and neatly integrated front fog lamps in the front bumper section.
The high voltage battery has a compact three-section design, which has allowed it to be located beneath the rear seats without compromising passenger space in any way.
The driver can monitor the drive system’s performance from a power meter that replaces the tachometer on the central instrument display. On versions equipped with the Lexus Navigator satellite navigation system (standard on SE-L, optional on SE models) the power flow can be displayed on the seven-inch colour monitor on the centre console.
UK grade structure
In the UK the RX 400h is offered in three grades: RX400h, SE and SE-L. The entry-level specification includes cruise control, multi-zone climate control, eight-speaker sound system with dashboard-mounted six-disc CD autochanger, rear privacy glass, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps and electrically adjustable front seats.
SE models further benefit from leather upholstery, automatic wipers and lights, an electric sunroof, power-operated tailgate, electric steering column adjustment, Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), 40:20:40 folding rear seats, heated front seats and memory settings for the driver’s seat, mirrors and steering column.
The SE-L grade includes the Lexus Navigator satellite navigation system with touch screen operation, voice control capability and Electronic Traffic Avoidance. This system brings with it Bluetooth® connectivity which permits hands-free use of compatible mobile phones, and the Rear Park Assist Monitor which transmits the view from the back of the vehicle to the colour monitor on the centre console for safe and simple reverse parking manoeuvres. SE-L versions are also equipped with state-of-the-art in-car entertainment, including an 11-speaker Mark Levinson® premium hi-fi and a DVD player with twin monitors mounted in the back of the front seat headrests. The Lexus Navigator package is optional on SE models; the ICE DVD system is an option on the RX 400h entry-level and SE models.
The RX 400h went on sale in the UK on 15 June, priced from £35,480 on the road. The sales target for the remainder of 2005 is 1,625 units, rising to 3,850 in the full year 2006.
THE INCREASING ARGUMENT FOR HYBRID POWER
“All car manufacturers will have some form of hybrid very soon or are planning something,” said Karl Schlicht, Vice President Lexus Europe. “I think it’s fair to say that Lexus’s dedication to hybrid technology and our early success have surprised some of the established manufacturers. It is evident that when NOx standards start to bite, diesels will become more expensive and hybrids even more attractive.
“The NOx issue has been avoided in Europe and this needs to change. There is a reason why, in other markets, such as North America and Japan, NOx standards are stricter than in Europe. Level the standards for particulate emissions globally and hybrids become very attractive. Add the performance dimension offered by the RX 400h and the proposition becomes even more interesting,” he said.
“When you consider global economies of scale, this again tilts the balance towards hybrids. Simplify the standards and take NOx into account, then let the consumer decide.
“Hybrids will represent a core technological advantage for Lexus. And as for its SUV application in the RX 400h, it’s like letting you enjoy a chocolate sundae – but without the guilt factor.”
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