Takumi is the ancient Japanese concept and tradition of artisan craftsmanship. It is, finds Neil Davey, an apt epithet for this fourth generation of the RX luxury SUV
Word of warning. This is probably going to be a very different type of car review than anything you’re used to. It’s not that I’m a motoring novice. I’m not. I’ve had a license for getting on for – blimey – four decades. My first car – as was often the case in the 80s – was not exactly reliable, so I learned the basics of fiddling about under the bonnet and simple maintenance. I’ve also written about cars from time to time, and enjoyed some ridiculous trips based around them, including driving a Bentley Flying Spur from Beijing to the Great Wall of China. It was, to say the least, a little challenging…
But if you’ve come here looking for torque-based commentary and details on whether the Lexus understeers or oversteers, then you should probably stick to Top Gear and people who can put a vehicle through extreme paces. Me, I simply borrowed this one because I was heading to Moor Hall for dinner and thought, well, two birds, one proverbial, and the Lexus would probably be considerably more comfortable than our 12-year old Auris. And it was. The end.
No, of course that’s not the end. Although to some extent it probably should be as: a) the longer I go on, the longer my lack of knowledge will become evident (hell, I had to look up what “torque” was five sentences ago); and b) the sort of people who’ll buy a Lexus RX450h Takumi don’t strike me as the people who’ll be doing donuts in a carpark at 1am or go bombing along the outside lane, sitting on bumpers, flashing their headlights and generally being a cock.
Lexus drivers strike me as people who want to get from A to B in comfort and be content that the acceleration is there should they be faced by someone playing silly buggers on the motorway. And the RX450h delivers on those needs in, well, not so much spades as very large shovelfuls.
First of all, it looks good. Sturdy. Imposing. Stepping up and in that first time, I’m simultaneously concerned that I’ll clip kerbs – or bumpers – aplenty and filled with a vague sense of superiority as I look down on my neighbour’s regular height vehicles. The joy of that view doesn’t diminish over the days I get to put the car through some miles, but the fear of parking does: the reversing camera is clear and impressive, and the screen even gives you a view of the things you can’t quite see over the bonnet. (This is, I’m told, the Lexus Safety System+, and is standard on all versions.)
The (self-charging) hybrid element (standard across the range) is a little confusing at first; after 40-odd years of turning over engines (and opening the choke, if you remember those days?), the silence is disarming. The speed, however, and instantaneous response is impressive, and you barely notice when the engine “proper” kicks in. The ride is as secure as they come. Even in the ridiculous traffic that seems to be this country’s only growth area these days – there’s a point where the arrival time drags out so frequently, I convince myself that Moor Hall is being towed further and further away – you don’t really mind because comfort. Lexus describe it as a “generously proportioned cabin providing comfort for all passengers” and they have a point: for the journey back to London, there are four adults in the vehicle and there’s space aplenty. The air conditioning is flexible and responds at speed. The seats – leather, hand-stitched – are wonderfully supportive. The seat cooling system is discovered by accident but proves itself both welcome and oddly intimate in roughly equal measure.
Indeed, much of the RX450’s many features are worked out by accident. To be fair, there are so many that the instruction manual must make Lord of the Rings look like a copy of the Beano, so playing around with the buttons seems as good an option as any. Also, many of them – the central console and sat nav in particular – are simply instinctive and responsive, and the Bluetooth elements work seamlessly with my phone, although they’re mostly tested via Spotify and the excellent stereo system.
Economically… it’s a surprise. I don’t measure it specifically, but London to Lancashire and back only requires a small top up or two. Official figures suggest around 35mpg and that feels about right. It helps that there’s a 17.2 gallon tank, of course, but for a car of this size and power that seems genuinely impressive economy.
Prices start at £57, 865 which is the sort of sum that, in my day, might have bought you a moderate apartment or a small house but, these days just gets you… well, an extremely smart, comfortable, well-appointed, efficient car that’s a surprising amount of fun to drive. If I ever get my head out of that nostalgic zone (and get a proper job), there’s a very good chance that the Lexus RX450h Takumi would be high on my shopping list.
LEXUS RX450H TAKUMI
♦ Engine: 3,456cc V6 petrol (259hp)
♦ Electric motors: 165hp (front)/67hp (rear)
♦ Max speed: 124 mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 7.7 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy (WLTP): 35.3 to 35.7mpg
♦ Price: £66,165.00