ON THE ROAD: LEXUS RX 350 EX

Quite a futuristic look hey?

Lexus has become a real design icon in the premium segment. Their design department has seriously jacked up over the past two years or so. We have seen this in concept cars, but most importantly, in their new road vehicles, like the new RX 350 EX. From the spindle front grille with chrome accents, LED daytime running lights, to those extremely sharp headlights with what we would call a samurai-inspired look, the RX 350 is now probably the wildest-looking car in its class. Like it or not, it is quite arresting. We certainly like it.

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They have the coupe stance too don’t they?

Oh yes. So while other manufacturers, most notably the Germans, tend to separate their coupe SUVs from the normal ones, Lexus seems to have blended the two here. The side profile is sporty, with what looks like a continuous window line, all the way to the boot lid, essentially negating the C-pillar. An electronically-operated boot lid houses part of the rear LED lights, while two chromed tailpipes add to the Japanese mystique.

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What about the interior?

We were taken by surprise by the improvements shown over the car’s predecessor. A very noticeable upgrade in materials and build quality is evident from everything, including the dashboard, leather seats, and the bi-material multifunction steering wheel (covered in both leather and wood). One feels comfortable inside. Space is abundant for the passengers, with legroom amongst the best in the business. But not so much in the boot. That’s because of the combination of the sloping roofline and the full-sized spare wheel which takes up much of the depth that would otherwise be used for luggage.

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What we didn’t particularly enjoy is the infotainment system. Yes it is advanced, with pretty much everything one would hope for, including satellite navigation, USB and Bluetooth entertainment connectivity, trip meters measuring fuel consumption etc. However, the Remote Touch Interface “mouse” is not as easy to use as Lexus claims. One would often have to take one’s eyes off the road to click on the correct icon. That probably needs a redesign.

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This being a naturally aspirated V6…

…meant that we were constantly enjoying the revs and the aural pleasures that come with such a configuration. Power is of course accessible at quite a high rev range. When using full automatic mode the 8-speed ‘box is smooth, but when you engage M mode it becomes sportier. Suspension is not as hard as some of the rivals, the Lexus preferring a more supple ride than anything else. Eco mode ensures you don’t visit the petrol station as often as you otherwise would.

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Is it a good buy?

Yes, it has our vote.

 

 

QUICK STATS

LEXUS RX 350 EX

ENGINE: 3.5-litre V6 naturally aspirated

POWER: 221kW / 300 PS at 6 300rpm; 370Nm between 4 600rpm and 4 700rpm

0 – 100KM/H: 8.5 seconds

GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic

DRIVE: all-wheel-drive (AWD)

TOP SPEED: 200km/h

FUEL AVERAGE:  11.3 l/100km

CO2 e: 223 g/km

 

PRICE STANDARD: R839 000

 

NATURAL RIVALS: BMW X5 xDrive40i, Jeep Grand Cherokee V6, Volvo XC90 T6

 

*PRICE RIVALS: BMW Z4 sDrive35i, Ford Mustang V8 GT Fastback, Infiniti QX70 3.7 S, Volkswagen Caravelle Highline auto

 

BABE-MAGNETIC FACTOR: High

 

*A price rival falls within R30 000 or so of the subject’s price on either side of its price spectrum for cars over R350 000, R20 000 for cars of between R250 000 and R350 000 and R10 000 for cars below R250 000.

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