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Juliet McGuire

First drive in the Lexus RX 350 F Sport

The last time I drove the Lexus RX I wasn’t blown away. I guess I just found it to be somewhat bland. But then it wasn’t the F Sport that I drove because, well this is the first time that Lexus has brought this derivative to South Africa. I headed up the Garden Route (my fav place) to give it a go. Have I changed my mind? Well read on and see.

WHAT’S NEW?

Well, a part from the F Sport making its debut here in South Africa, the RX model range has seen a facelift as well. There is an new rendition of the signature Lexus grille, with a mesh pattern of radiating three-dimensional ā€œLā€ shapes (slightly different execution for the F Sport); slimmer sharper headlight units; and more rounded edges to the re-sculpted front bumper. I could go in to more detail, but you can rather just see for yourself.

Isn’t it stunning? This is the Hybrid model in case you are wondering.

The F Sport stands out a little bit more with an exclusive front facia, an F Sport emblem on the front and rear, 20-inch split 10-spoke alloy wheels in a dark granite finish, an exclusive lower bumper and garnish as well as jet black plating. The grille sports the vertical mesh pattern and the black side mirrors contrast with the exterior colour. Of which there are six to choose from, but two are exclusive to the F Sport; White Novo and Heat Blue Contrast (as shown below).

The rather striking F Sport

The inside, although somewhat dated for my liking, is available in black or Flare red. The interior has an aluminium finish and F Sport steering wheel. I shall say it again and again, I wish Lexus would get rid of the tracking pad thingamajig. I suck as using it. Although, the new 12.3-inch central display featuring touchscreen functionality does make things a bit better. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard now, as well as four USB ports.

WIFI BABY!

I am not sure why this excites me so much, it might be because I am so tired of nearing the end of the month and having to restrain myself from aimlessly scrolling through Instagram as I am about to run out of data. The RX is equipped as standard with an on-board WiFi hotspot with an initial complimentary 15GB data plan (with the option to purchase additional data at any time). Do you know how much Instagram stalking scrolling I could do with 15GB. As long as someone else is driving, of course.

PS. There is no options list on the RX. It comes standard with every single thing you can possibly imagine (don’t get smart now – you know I am using exaggeration for effect).

POWER TO THE RX

So we still have the RX350 EX, the RX350L EX (which has three rows) and the flagship RX450h SE hybrid. The newly added F Sport derivative boasts the same powertrain as the RX350. It is a naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 producing 221 kW and 370 Nm of torque. It is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The RX350L EX has the same powertrain but with peak outputs of 216 kW and 358 N.m.

The RX450h combines a detuned version of the 350’s powertrain with an electric motor. It produces 230 kW and 335 N.m. It is mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The RX, whether in F Sport or Hybrid guise, is a pleasure to drive. Seeing as this article is about the F Sport though, I shall talk about that. It might not feel as if you can hurtle it in to corners, I can’t imagine the average family looking for such dynamics anyway, but the V6 ensures there is enough fun to be had when tackling a mountain pass or when just cruising along the highway and a truck cramps your style.

The cabin is serenely quiet. The first thing of silence I noticed was before the wheels had even turned, it was when I opened the windows. I am not sure why it excited me so much, but I think my driving partner, Ian McLaren, was less than impressed with me opening and closing the windows a million times.

HAVE I CHANGED MY MIND?

If you you haven’t figured that out yet then I am afraid we cannot be friends. Just kidding! But seriously, I think it is pretty clear that I have been left rather impressed by this updated RX model. Look, there is no denying that there is a lot of choice in this premium SUV segment and a few rivals may have the edge over the RX in terms of space and power. But, I think the RX is somewhat of a dark horse. Something you may not have considered before, but once you sit behind the wheel, you will be enjoy the luxury the Lexus brand has to offer.

LEXUS RX PRICING

A 7-year/105 000 km warranty and full maintenance plan is standard. The warranty on the RX450h battery is 8 years/195 000 km.  

  • RX350 EX           R1 012 000
  • RX350 EX L        R1 087 000
  • RX350 F-Sport    R1 132 200
  • RX450h SE         R1 315 800

If you’re keen on buying a new Lexus RX, then head to CARmag’s new cars for sale, or if you’re in to used cars instead, they’ve got you covered there as well.

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