The new, upgraded Lexus RX model range makes its world debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
The new RX exterior features a new, more elegant and aggressive frontal design. An enhanced interior offers an expanded choice of colour schemes, new trim finishes, a new steering wheel, a revised instrument binnacle and the introduction of the second generation Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI).
The versatility of the flagship RX 450h’s Lexus Hybrid Drive system has been enhanced by the addition of a Sport mode, supplementing the full hybrid powertrain’s Normal, Eco and EV (electric only) drive modes. The EV mode can now be activated with a separate switch.
Further enhancing the dynamic and sporting character of the new RX and designed to attract new customers to the model range, a new F SPORT version will be available, featuring a bespoke exterior and interior design and driving dynamics technology.
With the launch of the first RX in 1998, Lexus created the Luxury SUV segment, combining, for the first time, all the flexibility, practicality and durability of a Sports Utility Vehicle with the handling, performance, refinement and ride of a luxury sedan.
The RX was the first ever SUV to be equipped with a full hybrid powertrain in 2005. Today, after three generations, two of which have been equipped with Lexus Hybrid Drive technology, the RX remains a key model for Lexus.
The new Lexus RX range is hallmarked by a bold, elegant and highly individual frontal treatment which will be adopted throughout the brand to strengthen the Lexus family identity between model ranges.
Giving the new RX a powerful, commanding road presence, this new, more aggressive design is a further evolution of a styling cue first developed on the CT 200h and GS model ranges.
The inverted trapezoid upper grille and slanted lower grille have been combined and integrated into a single element, bridging the bumper mid-section to create a prominent ‘spindle’ shape. Reinforcing this more modern and bolder identity, the lower grille now features horizontal bars and is finished in black.
Positioned on a higher plane than the grille itself -a unique Lexus characteristic- a new, clear lens headlamp cluster design incorporates a choice of halogen, High Intensity Discharge (HID) or Light Emitting Diode (LED) headlamps. The headlamps are underscored by integral LED Daytime Running Lights (DRL) which form the L-finesse arrowhead motif, reinforcing the unique visual signature of the new RX model range.
Now also fitted with clear lenses, the rear lamp clusters have been redesigned with a stronger, more sweeping horizontal emphasis, adding elegance to the rear of the vehicle. A new range of wheel designs and additional exterior colours are available.
Further broadening the appeal of its spacious, luxurious and technically advanced dual-zone ‘crossover’ cockpit, the new RX interior features an expanded choice of colour schemes, new trim finishes, a new steering wheel, a revised instrument binnacle and a second generation Lexus Remote Touch Interface (RTI).
The driver’s instrument binnacle of RX 450h versions is equipped with a new Hybrid System Indicator design featuring clearly delineated, Charge, Eco and Power zones. New ambient illumination changes according to both driving conditions and the selected drive mode.
In EV (electric only), Eco or Normal drive modes, when the Hybrid System Indicator needle is in the Charge or Eco zones, the ambient illumination is blue. It will extinguish if the needle enters the Power zone. In Sport mode, the ambient illumination remains red at all times.
The new RX model range is equipped with a second generation Remote Touch Interface (RTI). This Lexus-unique, multi-function control device has been enhanced for increased user-friendliness and ease of operation. It now features the world’s first slide-type joystick control mechanism which functions much like a computer mouse, and the ENTER command is now accomplished simply by pushing the controller.
In conjunction with enhanced RTI control, the multimedia system’s full colour LED display now has multi-screen capability. This allows for the permanent display -and independent control- of three types of information simultaneously, such as map, vehicle information, audio, navigation input, air conditioner functions and incoming call.
Supplementing the Normal and Eco drive modes of the full hybrid powertrain’s E-CVT intelligent electronic transmission, a new Sport mode further improves the performance and dynamic ability of the RX 450h. These three drive modes can be selected through the steering wheel, whilst the EV mode (electric only) can be now activated through a separate EV switch.
From start-up and at speeds of less than 50km/h the RX 450h automatically operates in EV mode, driving under electric motor power alone. The driver may also select EV mode manually. This unique driving mode is only available through the full hybrid technology of Lexus Hybrid Drive.
Specifically tuned to deliver greater electric motor power, Sport mode maximises the new RX 450h’s performance and agility. It not only modifies the throttle and Electric Power Steering (EPS) settings to give a faster response to driver inputs, but also provides less intrusive operation of the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRC) systems, allowing drivers to fully exploit the Lexus full hybrid’s extended dynamic abilities.
The distinct character of each drive mode is further reinforced through changes to the driver’s instruments. Lit in hybrid blue for the EV, Eco and Normal drive modes, the instrument panel ambient illumination automatically alters to red when the Sport mode is selected.
Further enhancing the dynamic and sporting character of the new RX and attracting new customers to the model range, a new F SPORT version is now available.
F SPORT versions of the new RX are instantly identifiable by significantly more aggressive, model-unique frontal styling. A deeper, more vertical front bumper incorporates a bigger lower section of the Lexus family ‘spindle’ grille design.
Incorporating a full-width, aerodynamic spoiler for improved high speed stability, the lower bumper’s flared extremities house deeply rebated fog lamps. Both upper and lower grilles feature a sporting, F SPORT-specific mesh design. In profile, F SPORT models may be identified by exclusive, 19” shaded alloy wheels and front wing F SPORT badging.
The F SPORT-exclusive interior is hallmarked by an exclusive, Black and White Grey colour scheme. It features black, smooth leather upholstery with white grey perforations and contrast stitching, steel silver painted trim inserts and a black ceiling to give the interior a more cockpit-like feel and aid driver concentration.
F SPORT models further benefit from the lateral performance damper system, which is designed to absorb and minimise undesirable body vibrations, offer a more linear steering feel and contribute to improved ride comfort.
In lieu of conventional fixed bracing, the system features a front performance damper connecting the left and right front suspension towers, and a rear damper connecting the left and right sides of the rear lower back panel.
With a construction similar to that of a typical monotube suspension damper, the front and rear performance damper assemblies differ according to the variations in body rigidity, noise and vibration of their surroundings, optimising their ability to absorb body torsion, flexure and fine vibrations.
Their installation has reduced vehicle floor vibrations across a wide frequency range, reduced body deformation through a drop in left and right front suspension tower displacement, and even lowered audio system white noise levels.
Though difficult to analyse even using Computer Aided Design, micron-sized, minuscule vibrations manifest themselves as a slight discomfort when turning the wheel and minute deviations in vehicle behaviour during straight line acceleration. Their elimination brings a new dimension of steering response, agility and ride comfort to the premium SUV segment.
The automatic transmission of the RX F SPORT versions is now equipped with a steering wheel-mounted paddle shift control. The paddle switches can be used even with the gear selector in D range, allowing the driver to quickly change to fixed range mode without the need to engage S range via the gear lever.
* More information on the South African specifications and model range will be made available at the local launch of the new RX range, scheduled for mid-2012.