The first thing that struck me about the RX 450 was one of the details on the fact sheet, just underneath where it said MAX power System Output 295bhp – it said on the road price £50,460.
That’s £50,0000 then – cheers, ill take couple.
Not that this big SUV is out there on its own of course BMW, Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes and the like all have top of the range motors in the price range. But whats important about cars like this on which is labelled a Hybrid Drive, is that the inredible breen technology utilised is going to filter down to more affordable cars, which is good news for the world in general.
So in the same way as we’re not going to rush out to buy the latest three grand shirt modelled on a london catwalk a similar shirt is going to be on sale on the high street not long afterwards.
But this big Lexus isnt just a green wonder, its an impressive car in its own right.
There’s a lot of it, for a start. It’s big wide and long, with a high seating position which gives a good view of the road.
Yet its unspectacular in design noting particularly fancy just solid and chunky looking.
But when you’re going to spend this amount of money on a car you’re going to want top quality, and inside the cab the Lexus delivers.
The interior oozes class, with soft-touch plastics, leather and wood touches all around.
The dashboard is simple but stylish, and the centreal console, which houses the CD player, air conditioning controls and such is wonderfully straightforward.
The Satnav is tucked in a hollow in the centre and Lexus control system called remote touch, is an impressive bit of technology in itself.
Running between the front seats is a small mound which acts as an oversize computer mouse with a small toggle at the end to control a cursor on the dashboard screen.
The click buttons are on the side, and its easy to navigate through your sat nav, the CD/radio, MP3 and the heating bits and bobs. Seas are big and comfortable, and there is loads of headroom and leg space. There’s a reasonable size boot, though not massive.
But once you’ve finished relaxing in this comfortable haven from the outside world, its time to switch on the engine.
Nothing. Push button (keyless ignition – the fob just needs to be in the car) and all you get is a Christmas tree of green lights illuminating the dash.
Push the accelerator and there’s a vague hum. This is all part of this green technology. At low speeds or at start up, the 3.3litre engine runs on electric power from a seat of batteries in the rear.
This means that the engine isnt just quiet, it’s silent, only switching into some semblance of life when you reach more than a crawling pace.
In a nutshell, the engine isn’t just quiet, its silent, only switching into some semblance of life when you reach more than a crawling pace.
In a nutshell, the engine shuts off when the car is at a standstill, conserving fuel and cutting CO2 emissions, then switches to electric motor to pull away slowly and then finally, when you need power, into fuel mode.
And even during normal driving, the power source alternates between petrol and battery depending on speed, and when decelerating or braking.
But the amazing thing is that you really aren’t aware of all this happening, except for a dial on the dash which flicks between blue green sections.
All this translates into class-leading economy. That three litre engine hauling the big SUV around notches up a shade under 45 miles a gallon, which CO2 emissions at 148. This is really low for a car of this size, wiping the floor with its competitors.
But what’s equally impressive is that the big Lexus can hit 62mph in 7.8 seconds and has a top speed of 124mph.
Being so quiet its deceptively quick, and only witht the pedal to the floor do you get a growl from the engine.
Handling is fine with little body roll when cornering, but the sheer size of the RX means there seems to be a lack of grip, an eelement of slide, when on tight corners. The steering is a little on the stiff side too.
Its a tremendously comfortable ride, though and is equally hapy around town as on long motorway runs. The turning circle is ok but not great, which means parking takes some precision manovering.
Should things get a bit messy there are 10 airbags on board, and laminated side glass, plus lots of kit to make driving safer.
Although the RX comes in a higher entry level price than many of its competitors, there are loads of goodies as standard.
I drove the SE-L but the range starts witht the SE and tops off with the Lexus RX 450 SE-L Premium. All get plenty of nice stuff but the SE-L I drove had the keyless ignition, rear parking camera and sensors, automatic wipers and headlights, a top quality 15 speaker six CD changer, electric rmote boot opening and sat nav.
Lexus specialises in luxury cars and the RX is not out of place in that range.
While its not the most thrilling of rides, its the ultra comfortable ultra quiet and has all the bells and whistles you could possible hope for.
There is enough space for the family and on long runs you may as well be sitting in your armchair, thigs are so quiet.
And this stop-start electic petrol hybrid technology is going to be more and more widespread, and with it already at this level of accomplishment you wonder where its going to go next.
LEXUS RX 450h SE-L
Engine: 3.3 litre
Top Speed: 124mph
OTR Price: £50,460
Combined mpg: 44.8mpg