Lexus RX 450h F Sport

2 Aug, 2012 5:00pm Damion Smy

The facelifted Lexus RX is as efficient as ever. But does the new F Sport trim add some excitement?


The F Sport version of the revised RX is the best-looking hybrid 4x4 Lexus has built to date, but it’s not as much fun to drive as we’d hoped. Stiffer suspension hampers comfort over poor surfaces, while the car doesn’t grip as well as a BMW X5 or Audi Q7 in corners. Still, refinement is superb and it’s the class’s cleanest car. It’s just a pity the price is so high.

The Lexus RX 450h has been given a mid-life makeover, with fresh styling and improved performance. Plus, the company has added this striking new F Sport model to the range.

The car is aimed at M Sport and S line versions of the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 respectively, and Lexus has sharpened up the looks with a new chrome-edged grille, which has already been seen on the GS and LS.

The F Sport model gets LED headlamps, exclusive dark grey 19-inch alloys and has its own unique aggressive front bumper.

Inside ares a sports steering wheel and drilled aluminium pedals, plus leather seats and high-quality switchgear. Lexus’ soft-touch dash and mouse controller are familiar, although the latter no longer has buttons on the side, so is easier to use. F Sport spec is equipped with sat-nav, a DAB digital radio and climate control as standard.

While the driving position is good, the seats are heavily padded and designed more for comfort than performance. The dash is easy to read, plus there’s a clear and sharp head-up display.

The hybrid powertrain is unchanged, so it still combines a 3.5-litre V6 with two electric motors to offer 295bhp. Power delivery is smooth, but throttle response is relaxed at best.

So while the car is fast, there’s a delay between you flexing your right foot and the surge of acceleration arriving. The electric steering is short on feel, too, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence into corners.

Hit the Sport button – which incidentally changes the colour of the dash display from blue to red – and things improve a bit, with slightly sharper throttle response. The ESP doesn’t cut in quite so eagerly, either.

The F Sport is the only RX 450h to have sports suspension and Lexus’ Lateral Damping System, which aims to reduce vibrations and improve stability. But the ride is still harsh, and thumps over speed bumps around town.

Even though the RX is four-wheel drive, it never feels completely planted on the road and the ESP light flashes in the rain. The official electric-only range in EV mode is a mere 1.2 miles, although this contributes to class-leading 44.8mpg economy and 145g/km of CO2, so the car costs less to run than its predecessor.

The latest RX is as practical as before, offering up to 825 litres of luggage space with its rear seats folded flat. Keyless entry and an electronic tailgate are standard, plus a reversing camera and large mirrors mean visibility is good.

But at £51,995, this F Sport is pricier than an X5 xDrive 40d M Sport and Q7 S line Plus 3.0 TDI. And while the Lexus has the edge on efficiency, the BMW and Audi are more powerful, desirable and better to drive.

Disqus - noscript

heheh i funnyCAR but for Europ Team is not strong for reality life he he in europe Nr 1 BMW Audi RR MErcedes ...another History is LC V8 or 150 see you

BMW and Audi ahead of a Lexus. What a surprise from AE.

Road-testers may also care to note that EV mode range may be a "mere" 1.2 miles, but more to the point in the real world is driving 20 minutes solely in EV mode in thick traffic, as I do quite often. All around me, hundreds of cars sit more or less stationary, burning petrol and spewing pollutants into the atmosphere.

Got one of these as a company car and it saves me over five grand a year in tax over as opposed to the alternatives.
When I am sipping cocktails, on holiday, in the five star hotel that this pays for, I rarely find myself wishing my car was a bit more dynamic.

the reviewer acts like 1.2 miles in electric mode is bad. Its constantly charging, the battery never runs out so its really much more than that!

Also, like for like, the Lexus is cheaper than all of its competitors, so reviewer, please get your facts right before test driving vehicles. thank you.

Key specs

  • Price: £51,995
  • Engine: 3.5-litre V6, hybrid
  • Power: 295bhp
  • Transmission: CVT, all-wheel drive
  • 0-60mph: 7.8 seconds
  • Top speed: 124mph
  • Economy: 44.8mpg
  • CO2: 145g/km
  • Equipment: DAB audio, leather, sat-nav, sports suspension
  • On sale: Now