Rocking with the Lexus RX

By RIZAL JOHAN | 10 May 2016

The new Lexus SUV has taken a giant leap from its previous incarnation in almost all aspects as it ups the ante in the premium segment.

Introduced in 1998, the Lexus RX looks like it's here to stay and Lexus is taking great strides to let people know that the RX is going to be a staple in the premium SUV market.

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Even though the compact SUV segment is taking the auto industry by storm - and Lexus jumped on it with its hugely popular NX model - the new RX proves that bigger is sometimes better.

And why wouldn’t you want a bigger vehicle?

The new RX has extended its wheelbase up to 50mm (which means more legroom) and overall length of 120mm (more luggage space); its new exterior design is bold yet politely aggressive; the new powertrain dishes out more horses than the previous generation; it has every creature comfort, safety equipment, and a fit and finish that can match most luxury cars out there.

Lexus Malaysia launched all six variants of the new Lexus RX which consists of the 200t Premium, 200t Luxury, 200t F Sport, 350 Luxury, 350 F Sport and the 450h.

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All 200t variants have the latest turbocharged 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission which was first introduced in the NX. This new engine now produces 235hp and 350Nm of torque, 50hp more than the previous 2.7-litre RX 270 as well as an increase in torque of 98Nm.

The review unit we received was the 200t F Sport priced at RM422,990, the higher end of the 200t range and as the name suggests has more sportier additions to it as well.

For example, you know you are looking at an F Sport when you see the mesh in the signature spindle grille and 20-inch multi spoke wheels.

It also comes with aluminium roof rails and black outer mirror casings.

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Besides these additional features, the overall body design of the new RX is simply stunning.

Its sharp-edged creases and surface shaping is a sight to behold.

And it is a distinctly Japanese aesthetic, as if the designers created it out of origami (the art of paper folding) first before turning it into an actual production model.

A cool feature is the blacked out C-pillar which gives a floating roofline effect.

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The wide-yawning spindle grille is authoritative without being too aggressive and finally, the stylised L-shaped LED headlamps, which also doubles as turn signal indicators and the wide LED taillights which wraps around the rear dress of the car like finely cut gemstones.

And those turn signals light up sequentially and doesn’t look cliched at all unlike some neon-lit signages.

The cabin inside is well appointed with quality materials and exquisite craftsmanship with its leather trim, leather seats and impeccable stitching.

The centre dash has a simple and clearly defined layout which makes it intuitive to operate.

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The spaciousness is immediately felt once you step inside and if you still feel claustrophobic, opening up the moonroof should do the trick.

The seats are plush and comfortable plus the driver and front passenger seats are ventilated which is a real welcome in hot climate countries like ours.

The RX comes with a push start button, an 8-inch display with navigation, rear and panoramic view camera, and hi-fi quality sound from the Lexus Premium Audio system with 12 speakers.

You can operate the multimedia system through the Remote Touch Interface and its rectangular joystick control located on the centre console.

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When it comes to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), the RX simply shines because it is eerily quiet as external noise either from the engine or traffic is shut out making it a conducive and relaxing environment.

The suspension is very well-tuned and absorbs uneven and harsh road conditions competently.

The tuning can be changed through the different drive mode the RX offers.

The F Sport variant has additional modes of Sport+ and Customise. The Eco, Normal and Sport modes are standard across all variants. Once Sport+ is engaged, it becomes a completely different car.

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The steering is sharper, the suspension is stiffer, you get a quicker response from the powertrain and the throttle is just aggressive.

The F Sport is rearing to go in this mode and the exhaust note unleashes a roar that is refined but thrilling nevertheless.

The handling of this car is just impressive.

Body-roll is minimal and for an SUV with a taller ride height, it feels really planted. Its all wheel drive system eliminates under steer and it turns without much fuss at higher speeds.

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The F Sport comes with paddle shifters along with G-Ball and Boost meter on the instrument panel which helps you understand the g-forces the car generates and the boost pressure of the turbocharger.

If you want to have your cake and eat it too - a spacious and comfortable car for the whole family, ample luggage space, luxurious accoutrements and the ability to engage the need for speed with a twist of a dial - the RX F Sport is it.

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CarSifu's Rating: 8.2