It sort of goes without saying that this year has been somewhat unusual in a number of ways. Life is a series of events. Some good, some bad. Some terrible. When my Lexus RX450h Takumi arrived for road testing the UK was on the edge of lockdown 2.0.
The thought of seeing Trump’s face all over the TV and internet for the next 5 years was ever-looming and the rain was hammering against the windscreen so fiercely the wipers (as fast as they were going) were having very little effect on the view. I had just trapped my little finger in the front door of my house and to be honest life was being a bit crap.
I climbed inside, pushed the small circular start button and the soft white leather drivers seat glided me towards the large dashboard that was elegantly flickering into life. As I grasped the multi-functional, part wooden steering wheel and pressed the accelerator pedal I began to ease silently forward on the RX’s pure electrical momentum and something changed. Suddenly the world wasn’t such a bad place after all.
Ok, so as you may know the Lexus RX450h isn’t completely new. It originally launched in 2016, but the 2020 upgrade comes with a few small but significant improvements. There are new front and rear fascias (just subtle tweaks), together with new suspension hardware and increased standard safety equipment. It’s a confident-looking thing and it’s one of those cars that seems much smaller in photos than it is. Trust me the RX450 is a big one. They’ve packed it full of stuff too.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard and while the sat-nav is pretty decent anyway, google maps is my preferred navigation system these days. It looks great on the large information screen. I also really like the 360 panoramic view monitor, it works by ‘stitching’ together several external camera feeds into a virtual 360˚ view of the car. It enables you to see the space all around the car in one view, especially useful when you are parking into tight spaces with cars / walls on either side. I like the heads-up display in the windscreen too and when using the built-in navigation it will also project your next turn – enabling you to keep your eyes fixed on the road ahead.
You also get LED interior lighting, a stylish old school analogue clock in the middle of the main console and wireless smartphone charging. There are usb points in the front and back and dual zone climate control comes as standard too. The immense Mark Levinson stereo with speakers front and rear will make your music sound awesome and the plush hand stitched leather interior is immaculate. With some cars you can see the bits where they’ve saved money, on the RX450h you can really see where they’ve spent it. The sliding Panoramic roof opens the cabin up right up, but with todays weather particularly seasonal we keep it covered and opt for a more cosy atmosphere inside.
When we can all actually go somewhere again, there is a nice big boot to put all your stuff in, but for now it will take plenty of crates of Sainsbury’s shopping, especially flour, pasta and toilet rolls.
As the wind blew and the rain poured we headed up to the north Norfolk coast from Norwich to Cromer through Holkham to Wells-next-the-Sea and Brancaster. For such a big car if feels easy to place on the road and despite encountering some narrow roads and a fair bit of traffic on our journey the high driving position and accurate steering presence allow you to drive the car confidently in less than perfect conditions. The adaptable variable suspension smoothers the majority of road imperfections and the car also resists the urge to throw you off sideways or over lunge around tight corners at speed. Acceleration is brisk, but it’s not devastating and 0-62mph takes a respectable 7.7 seconds. When you need a burst of speed there is always that moment of anticipation when the car catches up with your foot, but the power (courtesy of a V6 Petrol Atkinson Cycle engine) is there, and should you find anywhere to travel 124mph legally then the 450h will be happy to assist. Fuel consumption is around the 35 mph mark in real-world situations and Co2 emissions combined for an engine and car this size are a decent 134g/km.
As mentioned briefly above, in EV mode total electrical power is possible from the 2 motors when driving at lower speeds, eg when in slow-moving traffic around town. Push the throttle with a bit more force and the ‘real’ engine will burst discreetly into life. By applying gentle braking pressure coming up to traffic lights etc you can, by means of the clever recuperation system, put extra power back into the battery. In real-life situations it works well and depending on your driving requirements it’s possible you could spend considerable time at lower speeds in electric mode and save a few quid in the process. Although when you’re spending £60k+ amount on a car it’s debatable whether that will solely edge you towards making a purchase. Luckily there is plenty more good stuff.
Looks wise, I always think Lexus cars are always just a flick of a switch away from turning into a Transformer and the RX450h is no different. Everywhere you look there are angles and style lines, it feels ultra-modern and while metaphorically speaking it may not be the car you want to sleep with on a first date, it could be the one you take home to meet your parents and disappear into the sunset with (even if it is pouring with rain).
The list of features on this car is longer than your average Oscar acceptation speech, but a few stand out safety ones worth mentioning here include the BlindScan adaptive High Beam headlights system (see video above), dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lane Trace Assist, Bind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with automatic braking. Alongside driver and front passenger front and side airbags, a drivers knee bag and rear passenger side airbags. All show the commitment to safety Lexus have and it feels a very safe car to drive indeed.
I have to point out that since beginning to write this article and now a Covid vaccine is now imminent, Trump has lost the election and even Dominic Cummings is going. In short, things are looking up and overall the Nexus RX450h is a fine piece of machinery. It’s hard to pick any serious faults and if I had one it’s that the EV tech is up to speed, but not a green game-changer, we’ll have to wait for the next generation of hydrogen cars for that. However I do suggest drivers with even the most hardened of luxury car brand loyalties thinking of upgrading take a look for themselves at this car as there is much to like and things change quickly in this world.
For more info visit www.lexus.co.uk