The term “eco-friendly” has become so ubiquitous, many drivers have come to accept everything it stands for. Your car must be fuel-efficient, emit minimal emissions and have parts made from recycled materials. If it doesn’t meet these standards, your conscience is likely to chide you for not “doing your part”. But this “scolding” is nothing compared to the guilt you should feel driving an SUV, which apparently makes you an “earth-killer”.
Your transgression wouldn’t be quite so grievous, however, if you happen to be driving Lexus’ range-topping SUV in Singapore – the petrol-electric hybrid RX450h. Recently facelifted, the RX hybrid boasts the marque’s latest design language, which makes this luxury SUV seem more dynamic than its predecessor.
The RX450 is not only compelling to look at, it’s also convincing when it comes to caring for the environment. Indeed, compared to its RX350 sibling (which covers 9.3km per litre while spewing 254g of C02 per km), the RX450 does 15.8km/L while emitting “just” 149g/km.
This means that when the CEVS (Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme) takes effect from the beginning of next year, the RX350 will be parked under band C3, while the RX hybrid is classified under band A4. The former attracts a $15k surcharge on the ARF (Additional Registration Fee), while the latter is eligible for a $5k rebate. These are handy figures you can share with the next tree-hugger about to lecture you for destroying the planet.
Aside from keeping your conscience clearer and wallet a little fuller, the RX450 can also help to ease the stress of your daily commute with its quiet cabin, which becomes eerily silent whenever the vehicle seamlessly switches from petrol to EV (electric vehicle) mode.
This is the perfect time to enjoy the wonderful Mark Levinson hi-fi unit, which comes standard with the optional Luxury package. Not so awesome, however, is the system’s bizarrely static-prone radio reception, since the same system in the Lexus GS saloon encounters no such issue.
Sure to please the keen driver, though, is the instantaneous acceleration he will experience off-the-line thanks to the two electric motors assisting the 3.5-litre V6. But although the RX hybrid picks up speed easily, it doesn’t slow down as quickly due to its 2.1-tonne kerb weight (mainly due to the battery pack and electric motors), which is 135kg heftier than that of the RX350.
If there is one thing the RX450 doesn’t quite get right, it’s the ride quality, which feels bumpier at low speeds compared to the smoother RX350. In this respect, you’re likely to really feel guilty – especially if any of your rear passengers start to feel carsick.
This story was first published in the November 2012 issue of Torque.
2012 Lexus RX450h 3.5 (A)
ENGINE 3456cc, 24-valves, V6, hybrid
MAX POWER 249bhp at 6000rpm (total system output 299bhp)
MAX TORQUE 317Nm at 4800rpm
0-100KM/H 7.8 seconds
TOP SPEED 200km/h
CONSUMPTION 15.9km/L (combined)