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Geneva show: Lexus reshapes RX crossover

Tweaked: The new grille design brings the facelifted Lexus RX into line with the brand's newer product.

Lexus unveils first F Sport crossover as RX comes into line with brand’s new look

7 Mar 2012


LEXUS has revealed its first F Sport SUV as part of a facelifted RX crossover range that will join a procession of new or upgraded luxury models to be delivered by the premium Japanese brand in Australia by the middle of this year.

Making their world debuts at this week’s Geneva motor show were the new-look RX350 and RX450h hybrid, both which will be available in F Sport guise for the first time when they arrive Down Under around June this year.

Between now and then, Lexus Australia will also launch the facelifted LX570 large SUV first seen at January’s Detroit show, as well as F Sport versions of the new GS250, GS350 and GS450h sedans, bringing the total number of F Sport models to eight.

As we’ve reported, the addition of F Sport versions of the facelifted IS250C convertible, which is expected to debut at the New York show in April, and the flagship LS460/600hL limousine – a major midlife makeover for which is due to appear at the Paris show in September – will bring the total number of Lexus F Sport models to 11 by the end of this year.

31 center imageAlthough Lexus continues to offer only one full-blown F model – the IS F sports sedan – F Sport models now comprise almost 30 per cent of all CT200h hatch and IS250/350 sedan sales in Australia, while F Sport versions account for a quarter of all new GS sedans sold in the US, where demand for an F Sport GS had been expected to be almost non-existent.

Lexus claims it created the luxury crossover craze with the original RX in 1998, then in 2005 created the world’s first premium hybrid SUV with the RX400h.

Distinguished most noticeably by a variation of the hourglass-shape ‘spindle’ grille that appears on the redesigned GS and facelifted LX, the new-look RX also comes with a range of other exterior and interior upgrades, while F Sport versions – which will be offered in the US as an optional ‘Sport Appearance Package’ – ratchet up the aggression further with a bolder front bumper and 19-inch alloy wheels.

Bringing the RX into line with the latest interpretation of the brand’s L Finesse design language are reshaped headlights underlined by a row of LED daytime-running lights, flanking the new signature grille with a redesigned front bumper featuring bolder foglight bezels.

At the rear is an edgier bumper and tail-lights, more brightwork for the numberplate surround and the standard fitment of an automatic tailgate.

The revised RX interior scores a “more comfortable and relaxing” new steering wheel, a metallic accent for the glovebox and a redesigned centre console that is claimed to offer more versatility and accessibility.

There are no mechanical changes to the familiar 204kW 3.5-litre petrol V6 in the RX350 or the RX450h hybrid’s 220kW V6 petrol-electric drivetrain, which gains a Sport mode that alters steering assistance, throttle mapping and shift priorities of the carryover six-speed automatic transmission “to fully exploit the capabilities of the powertrain”.

Like the CT200h, the refreshed RX’s instrument dials change to red in Sport mode, while the fuel-saving Eco mode continues unchanged.

Lexus Australia marketing manager Peter Evans told GoAuto that, apart from featuring more aggressive styling than the revised ‘L Finesse 2.0’ designs of the standard RX models on which they are based, both F Sport models would also ride on performance-tuned dampers.

“This is a fair-dinkum F Sport model that will be more sporty and aggressive, available with both petrol and hybrid powertrains,” he said.

Beyond this year’s redesigned GS and facelifted RX, LX, IS-C and LS, Lexus is also working on a redesigned IS sedan, a small SUV and – if it can establish a business case – a production version of the sleek LF-LC hybrid sports coupe concept, which was revealed at this year’s Detroit show and made its European debut at Geneva this week.

What’s coming from Lexus:

LX570 facelift – April
GS250, F Sport – April
GS350 redesign, F Sport – April
GS450h redesign, F Sport – June
RX350/450h facelift, F Sport – June
IS250/350C facelift, F Sport – October
LS460/600hL facelift, F Sport – October
New IS250/350/F Sport – 2013
LF-LC coupe – 2015Small SUV – 2015

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