What a comfortable week, driving the Lexus RX 450h F Sport
The Lexus RX 450h shows what spending £58,540 can do…or, for actual owners, not just for a week!
The F Sport’s Active Stabiliser works well, giving a nice ride. However, let’s begin with the Lexus’ Atkinson Cycle, lovely 6-cylinder, 3456 cc petrol engine.
This is, for anyone who has not studied the history of the ICE (internal combustion engine, as opposed to the new-fangled electric device), a nearly-140-years-old rival to the Otto Cycle engine. The bottom line in 2021 is that the occasional manufacturer, e.g. Toyota and Lexus, use this subtly different system, whose bottom line is claimed fuel efficiency.
So who can say that this Lexus’ WLTP combined consumption figure of 35.7 – 36.2mpg would not be bettered by the different expansion stroke of an Otto? All I can say is that the test car recorded my 261 miles, covering our usual whole variety of road and traffic conditions, at 32.3 mpg. Still, the 65-litre tank should allow a range of 450 miles.
To be fair, a fast and hefty SUV, even a hybrid like this, is probably in the hands of a mere human being like me who is tempted to explore the depths of power and heights of performance available. So, not huge miles to the gallon. But 0-62 mph in 7.7 seconds.
It turned out to be all-to-easy to find the 450h at well over 80 as you shove your foot down to overtake lorries on the motorway, at the same time conscious of some fast guy roaring up behind you in the outside lane from whom you want to get out of the way.
All that having been noted, the engine is a beautifully smooth unit, with, when aroused, a subdued yet most satisfactory growl.
However, being a hybrid, the driver’s emphasis should, as ever, really be on driving as economically as possible. So under certain conditions, the Lexus 450h will drive purely as an electric vehicle; a switch on the central console organises this. Great for short distances in slow traffic, provided there is enough charge already available; if there isn’t, the EV selection is automatically over-ridden. At other times, the green EV telltale light in the instrument cluster lets you know whenever you are not using petrol. This provides a sort of feel-good feeling, even if, in practice, it’s not that often.
As you drive along, the car is nicely quiet…occasionally, the CVT gearbox can be heard revving the engine up and down when gradients demand more power.
It’s worth mentioning under the ‘quiet’ heading that the electric windows move up and down in almost complete silence. Yes, it’s all part of that £58,540.
My comfortable week, all in daytime driving, wore on. Then, as dusk fell one evening, as I meandered along a quiet country road, I thought I would try out the headlamps.
The Lexus was equipped with its ‘Road Sign Assist & Blade Scan Adaptive High-beam System’.
On a deserted road, I pushed the lever for high beam. Fine. I switched back to normal full beam. Then a car coming the opposite way flashed me and so did another. Then I noticed that my Lexus was still tell-tailing its blue high beam light.
I pulled the lever back again. Then I noticed that it kept reverting to high beam and did so every time I pulled the lever back to normal full beam. With more and more traffic coming towards me, this was somewhat concerning.
Back home, the owner’s manual shed no light (OK, pun intended) on the situation. I also googled but got no clear result apart from comments from a few disgruntled American owners, perhaps not relevant in the U.K.
This brief experience does not detract from the overall enjoyable one of travelling about in the 450h.
Inside, the infotainment was user-friendly; the comfort and convenience equipment was plentiful; the very cold early starts I had were quickly overcome by the efficient heating and the aircon was faultless.
Should this big SUV be subjected to less glamorous pursuits than transporting people, there is plenty of carrying space: I admit to once loading up a ten-foot fence panel. And the tailgate can both be shut by its switch or shut and the whole car locked with its next-door-neighbour switch. That was a neat little touch. But of course, yes, £58,540 should buy such things.
Tom Scanlan has written for a wide variety of magazines and newspapers, particularly the Reading Evening Post for ten years, having got into motoring journalism in 1973 via the somewhat unlikely back door of the British Forces Broadcasting Service. BFBS produced a weekly radio motoring show for the services overseas and Tom produced it, as well as interviewing experts and eventually reporting on cars.
He is into classic cars and has owned Porsche, Ferrari, pre-war Alvis and Rileys and currently owns his fifth old Alfa Romeo, a 1984 GTV 2.0.
In his spare time, Tom is a professional cricket coach.
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