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Driven: New-gen Lexus RX to kick off from $73,000

Out on a limb: The new Lexus RX’s design is the result of a directive from the chairman of Toyota to bring an edge to the car.

Lexus RX adds turbo engine to range, which will start from $73,000 plus ORCs


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23 Nov 2015

THE polarising fourth-generation Lexus RX SUV is now on sale, priced from $73,000 plus on-road costs for the new RX200t, rising to $106,000, an increase of between $7000 and $11,000 across the seven-variant range.

The RX has been deliberately repositioned to sit more squarely in the mid-size-SUV segment previous RXs have straddled segments, but Lexus’s new NX crossover has given the Japanese luxury brand a new entrant taken the small-SUV category.

Pricing for the RX has increased by between $7000 and $11,000 across the range compared with the outgoing model.

Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said the new version is more closely aligned with key competitors than the old RX.

“This car clearly now fits into the medium segment,” he said at the car’s media launch in Sydney.

“It's up against cars like the Audi Q5, the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Clearly now we've positioned this to be in the segment, it comes with very, very generous levels of specification, and I think when you compare it to the medium segment of our key competitors, this is an incredibly good value proposition for customers.

“The 200t, for example, has very generous levels of spec – compared to X5, Q5 and GLE, the RX offers a very strong value proposition.”

Mr Hanley does not believe that the strong-selling NX small SUV will damage the prospects of the RX.

“Lexus' representation in the luxury SUV segment is now stronger than before thanks to the introduction of the entry level NX,” he said. “Indeed, it's because of NX that we have been able to increase the size of the RX. It no longer needs to straddle the small and medium segments – and in the medium segment, what we surely know is size matters.

“What our latest research says is that close to 63 per cent of the NX customers are new to the Lexus brand, so it’s conquest (sales),” he said. “This is incredibly encouraging for us as a brand. That's exactly what that car was designed to do.”

Mr Hanley indicated that the company hoped to sell 1915 RXs in 2016, with a 30 per cent split to the entry level LX200t, 50 per cent to the RX350 and the balance going towards RX450h sales.

The RX200t, kicking off price proceedings at $73,000, is a new variant to the line-up, offering for the first time a turbocharged engine in the RX. Making 175kW and 350Nm from the same 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine that is also used in the IS and the NX, the RX200t replaces the RX270 in the line-up.

The front-wheel-drive RX200t will do 0-100km/h in 9.2 seconds, and will return a fuel figure of 8.1 litres per 100 kilometres. It is backed by a six-speed automatic transmission.

The 200t is available in one grade only and comes standard with 10-way power front seats, leather-accented seats, 12-speaker audio system with DAB+ digital radio, heated and ventilated front seats, a wireless device charger, 20-inch wheels, powered tailgate, three-mode Drive Mode Select, 8.0-inch display with satellite navigation, power-adjustable steering column, electro-chromatic interior mirror, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, automatic heated exterior mirrors, tyre pressure monitoring, rear privacy glass and a reversing camera.

Blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, clearance and back parking sonar, smart entry and start and Lexus Safety System Plus (includes pre-collision safety system, lane keeping assist, all-speed active cruise control and automatic high beam) is also standard.

Three enhancement packs are available for the RX200t the first adds a sunroof for $3500, an additional smart key and head-up display for $4500, while the third at $7500 adds a 12.3-inch display, and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo to the other elements.

The RX350 Luxury starts at $80,000 plus on-road costs, and is offered with a new 3.5-litre petrol six making 221kW and 370Nm and a new eight-speed automatic transmission. The new engine – code-named 2GR-FKS – has 14kW more power and 14Nm more torque than the superseded GR-FE engine, and returns 9.6L/100km. It’ll dash from zero to 100km/h in 9.2 seconds.

The better-equipped RX350 F Sport is priced at $92,000, while the top-level RX350 Sports Luxury will cost $98,000.

Above the 200t, it offers 12.3-inch high definition multimedia display, 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system, adaptive variable suspension, a five-mode Drive Mode Select dial, and an F Sport interior and exterior styling package (front and rear bumper, seats, grille, pedals, steering wheel and gear shift knob).

Electric power steering, VDIM (Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management), smart key card, panoramic view back monitor, panoramic moonroof with sliding roof, sequential LED front indicator, sequential LED rear indicator, head-up display, adaptive high beam system, intake sound generator, LED headlights and tail-lamps and sunshades on rear passenger doors are also included.

Extra standard gear on Sports Luxury variants includes 14-way power seats, heated rear seats, power folding rear seats and laser cut ornamentation.

The RX350 can also be optioned with one of the three option packs.

The hybrid RX450h, meanwhile, starts $88,000, while the F-Sport variant is priced from $100,000. The top-spec Sports Luxury costs $106,000.

It, too, features an updated engine spec, with the new 2GR-FXS 3.5-litre Atkinson cycle quad-cam V6 petrol engine sporting an additional 18Nm of torque and 10kW more power than the previous engine.

The new petrol motor can perform in both Atkinson and more traditional Otto cycles, and makes 193kW of power at and 335Nm of torque. A 123kW front electric motor and, when required, a 50kW motor in the RX450h’s E-Four AWD system combine for a system total of 230kW.

It returns a claimed 5.7L/100km and can dash to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds.

The all-wheel-drive RX450h runs a six-step continuously variable transmission, and in Luxury and F Sport grades features the same specification as the 350, but the Sports Luxury adds adaptive high beam, panoramic view back monitor, power folding rear seats, sequential LED front and rear indicators, rear passenger door sunshades and laser cut ornamentation. It can be fitted with the first two enhancement packs if so desired.

More than 30,000 RXs have been delivered since 2003. Sales are down by 12 per cent year on year, with 1273 units moved to the end of October.

The car has yet to have a safety rating issued by Euro NCAP, but Lexus is “very confident” of a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating.

2015 Lexus RX pricing*
RX200t (a)$73,000
RX350 Luxury (a)$80,000
RX350 F Sport (a)$92,000
RX350 Sports Luxury (a)$98,000
RX450h Luxury (a)$88,000
RX450h F Sport (a)$100,000
RX450h Sports Luxury (a)$106,000
*Excludes on-road costs

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