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Back to Listers Lexus
By Jonathan Crouch
Added 1st April, 2016
This isn't the most capable luxury SUV you can buy. It isn't the sportiest to drive. And it's not the most affordable to buy. But despite all of that, it's the only one quite a few well-heeled buyers can justify owning. Once you've bought the thing, after all, its running costs are hugely less than even the most frugal of its diesel competitors.
While other manufacturers dithered over hybrid technology, Toyota's Lexus division got on and developed it. Their first hybrid RX was an impressive achievement and this one added a significantly improved driving experience to existing strengths of comfort, refinement and a high specification.
This post-2012 RX450h has a smarter look and a slightly more dynamic edge than the original 2009 model, but the reasons you'll want to buy it won't really be much different. Quite simply, it's one of the only cars of this kind you can drive with a clear, green conscience. And that's something it's hard to put a price on.
The LS is - and has always been - the car its brand is built upon. The day that Lexus can't bring us a credible large luxury saloon to challenge the best of the premium European makers will be a day the company will have taken its eye off the ball with too much of its focus on sports saloons, compact executive hatchbacks and SUVs. A drive in this improved fourth generation LS may well reassure you that that time is unlikely to ever come. While this isn't a class leader from its era, it's still a benchmark in so many ways, primarily when it comes to refinement and the sheer epitomisation of luxury in this segment.
Driving one of these is an experience, but one that few buyers browsing in the large luxury saloon used car segment will ever get to try. They'll dismiss this car for its lack of diesel power or an affordably priced hybrid engine. They'll bemoan the high-ish V8 running costs. Or assume that driving one will be like piloting a waterbed. Which is a pity because for all its faults, this enhanced MK4 model LS is a car that many top executives would really enjoy owning. True, it isn't an obvious choice. But then, that might be precisely why you'll like one so much.
The Lexus UX positions Lexus optimally in the compact part of the mid-sized premium brand SUV sector. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
The ultimate Lexus is this one, the LS luxury saloon. This comes only in LS 500h hybrid form these days and it'll be a rare sight on our roads. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at what's on offer.
If you're seeking a spaciously compact, prestigiously badged premium five-door hatchback, then you're probably thinking diesel power and German badgework. Here's a different way to go, Lexus' improved first generation CT200h petrol/electric hybrid. The original version of this car needed a little perfecting but it's now a far more credible choice that's classy to own, efficient to run and kind to the environment. In practice, this car is somewhat restricted by the limits of its Prius mechanicals but that doesn't stop it delivering a package that will still be compelling to many target buyers.
True, a rival diesel BMW 1 Series or an Audi A3 will be better to drive. But, spec-adjusted, both will cost you more to buy, be noisier to live with, confine you to nastier cabins and cost a whole lot more to run on pricier fuel. To us, the limits of this Lexus seem a fair trade in exchange for all these benefits. This car adds up. On the balance sheet. And in your driveway.
Lexus needed the NX to do well. It did. That was because this mid-sized SUV managed to offer more than the traditional attributes that spring to mind when you think of this brand, things like reliability, quality, refinement, technology and great dealer back up. In addition, there was also desirability, design flair, excitement and a bit of an X-factor on offer here.
That might not necessarily mean you'll want one. It's obviously not intended for the few who regularly want to get their tyres muddy in this segment. Nor will it really suit family-minded driving enthusiasts. Then there are the distinctive looks. If your favoured model choice in this segment is something squarer and more sensible like an Audi Q5 or a BMW X3, you might find an NX a bit. in-your-face. If, on the other hand, you like bold design and don't mind standing out a bit on the school run, it'll probably suit you perfectly.
Such potential buyers will revel in the sophisticated drivetrain that shines in the city. They'll love the generous equipment levels. And most of all, they'll like the way that this car makes them feel special and different, just like a Lexus should. If you fit that buying demographic, then we think you're going to absolutely adore this car.
So there you have it. The NX isn't perfect but it's never boring. And in a market sector that's getting just that little bit stale, it's proved to be a breath of fresh air.
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