This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 16, 2015.
THE latest generation of one of the more popular Lexus models is now in Malaysia. It is the fourth generation of the RX model line which, in 1998, created the premium SUV segment. The original RX combined — for the first time — flexibility, and practicality in an SUV with the handling, performance, refinement and ride experience of a premium sedan.
The new generation continues the heritage that has made the RX so successful, with over 2.2 million units sold worldwide to date. Now referred to as a “crossover SUV”, the latest RX is a bold and even larger evolutionary leap than that which separated the second and third generations.
The overall proportions of the new RX are basically similar to that of the previous generation but the length has been increased by 120mm, which has allowed the wheelbase to be stretched another 50mm. Lengthening the wheelbase has contributed to increased cabin space such as legroom in the rear seats, as well as increasing luggage compartment space.
Like the exterior, the interior of the new RX reflects an impeccable balance of functionality and luxury. The occupants are surrounded by refined materials inside the cabin exuding a heightened sense of quality in their construction and the craftsmanship which Lexus is renowned for.
Having been a signature design trait for Lexus since the very beginning, the seats in the new RX are based on an ergonomic design that puts equal emphasis on comfort and accessibility, elegance and richly appointed surfaces.
Of the three power trains available, the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is the newest and it is also the first time that the RX has an engine with this displacement. First installed in the NX last year, it joins the Lexus stable of excellent power plants, delivering superior fuel economy and driving performance, characterised by crisp throttle response and instantaneous torque.
The drive mode select system available in all RX variants allows the driver to choose between distinct drive settings (depending upon vehicle model and equipment). These settings regulate the damping force of the suspension system, adjust engine output, remap the throttle and modify other key parameters of the engine and chassis.
The Sport S+ mode in the F Sport allows an even higher level of performance with aggressive throttle mapping, quicker power-train response, while sharpening the feel of the Electric Power Steering system and a stiffer suspension for flatter cornering.
The F Sport variant also gets, for the first time by Lexus, a “customise” mode that enables the user to combine the modes of the engine, chassis, and air-conditioning functions, according to personal preferences.
All variants of the new RX have an all-wheel drive system. For the RX 200t and RX 350, there is Dynamic Torque Control, which processes information from a number of sensors, including G-force sensors, wheel-speed sensors and steering angle sensors, to instantaneously route engine power to the rear wheels for maximum traction on varying surfaces and road conditions.
The suspension system of the new RX, which consists of MacPherson struts in front and a trailing arm/double-wishbone set-up at the rear, provides added stability through corners and better overall handling character than its predecessor, thanks to extra refinements made with a number of key components. A larger front stabiliser bar significantly improves roll rigidity, thus making the turning response of the RX crisper than before, but because the new stabiliser bar allows for a reduction in coil spring rates, the overall ride quality has been maintained, if not improved.
A number of cutting-edge technologies have been applied to the platform to help optimise structural integrity as well as overall rigidity. These include increasing panel joint strength through the use of high-tech body adhesives and laser screw welding, liberal use of high-tensile strength steel throughout the vehicle including key areas such as the underbody cross members and front and middle sections, the implementation of a new process called “annular frame construction” for strengthened frame sections within the vehicle around the front and rear doors, and redesigned body frame sections and additional spot welds around the rear portion of the vehicle for enhanced strength and handling.
For the new RX, many new safety systems and technologies increase the level of occupant protection as well as enhance accident avoidance.
The F Sport variants and the RX 450h have Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, which is a more sophisticated stability control system. It integrates brake control, drive-power control and steering control to achieve excellent vehicle dynamics.
Warranty and after-sales support
As with all new models sold by Lexus Malaysia, there is a comprehensive factory warranty of three years or 100,000km (whichever comes first after the original registration).
For a test drive call 03 7710 5655/ 03 2164 5810