Always been a fan of the Premium brand Lexus Cars, and so when the Lexus 350 F Sport arrived for review, it was a happy day indeed. The first thing you notice is the big Spindle grille that is specific to Lexus, with a mesh pattern of radiating three-dimensional “L” shapes (slightly different execution for the F Sport); slimmer sharper headlight units; more rounded edges to the re-sculpted front bumper; and an extended line from the rocker panel (located on the sides of vehicle between front and rear wheel openings) that connects with the bottom of the grille, projecting strength and stability.
The brand exudes quality craftsmanship with luxury materials used in the cabin. And now the latest rendition adds updated connectivity and increased safety technology. The RX is now in it’s fourth generation.
We have mentioned the spindle grille. The RX looks sporty, it has the angles and lines that shout it out. The rear has a more prominent look, with a redesigned lower bumper, and generally the styling enhances the natural width of the SUV. New LED combination lights have been changed to a new mirrored L-motif design that contributes to greater brand recognition.
All models come standard with 20-inch alloy wheels (all-new design for the EX and F Sport variants) and electrically-operated sunroof. The F Sport is available in six hues comprising Sonic Titanium, Graphite Black, Morello Red and Black. The colour palette Heat Blue Contrast and White Nova are exclusive to F Sport. We drove the White Nova, which was very attractive.
The cabin of the RX 350 F Sport is luxurious, we had the Flare red upholstery, which is subjective, not for me, and I would prefer the black or noble brown. Vastly improved user interface with a new 12.3-inch central display featuring touchscreen functionality. The multimedia functions can of course also be operated using a new trackpad version of Lexus’s Remote Touch Interface, or with voice control, replacing the old button-activated system.
The new RX also offers smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™. Voice control can also be enabled via Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant if using an Android device. This is complemented by an additional four USB ports.
MyLexus (identical features to MyToyota) gives access to connected services via a dedicated app, while 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).
Lots of seat space and rear seats are now electrically adjustable. Great steering wheel with paddle shifts and all buttons are close at hand for control. Sound comes via 15-speaker Mark Levinson sound system. The F Sport kit is however more than just skin-deep; in addition to inheriting the new Lexus Safety System+, which it now shares with the flagship Hybrid model, it also boasts the same Adaptive Variable Suspension found in the high-performance Lexus LC that allows you to customise the shock absorber settings for improved ride comfort or reduced body lean as you enter and exit turns. We found the handling very good for such a big car.
Petrol variants are equipped with the monumental Lexus 3.5-litre V6 engine featuring direct and port fuel injection for ample grunt and efficient fuel economy. Combined with a quick-shifting eight-speed transmission, and delivering 221 kW and 370Nm @ 4600 rpm (RX 350) or 216 kW and 358 Nm @ 4600 rpm (RX 350 L), both models offer dynamic performance at every curve.
For even greater control, an innovative dual Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) system offers precise engine performance as it reduces emissions and enhances fuel efficiency. VVT-i monitors the engine’s speed and load, increasing torque at lower speeds for improved acceleration and boosting performance at higher speeds by adjusting intake and exhaust valve timing.
For me there was some turbo lag, but when it gets going, it’s a thing to behold. The drive is extremely smooth and control is always there.
Keeping it Safe.
Safety is well taken care of in the Lexus 350 F Sport, with10 airbags to the latest VSC system with Active Cornering Assist, all RX models now feature a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. But the big news is that the Lexus Safety System+ (pre-collision safety system and autonomous emergency braking) is now standardised for F Sport and Hybrid models. The latest version gains night-time pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection with commensurate emergency functionality. Additionally its all-speed active cruise control is now linked with new lane-trace assist.
The Lexus RX 350 F Sport model retails for R1 132 200 while the top of the range. The entire RX range boasts a Lexus best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. (The warranty on the hybrid battery is 8 years/195 000km.) The vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year. I have always personally loved the Lexus brand outlook, and their cars are great too, the Japanese have done a sterling job of making this brand a sought after product.