Our experience with Lexus in India started with breaking the word ‘Luxury’ down to its very rudimentary level. So while in the morning we were burning to a crisp and sweating away like a cube of ice under a magnifying glass, by late afternoon, we were injected with a tranquilizing shot of lush tea gardens and soothing weather in Ooty. Air conditioning the indoors is one thing, but picking a spot where nature had set the thermostat to an entirely different setting for the outdoors was an indication that Lexus knows being considerate. And that bit makes up for a big part of luxury.
For a brand that follows Omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) to the T, from what we heard and experienced, their idea of luxury and pursuit for perfection ticks all the right boxes. Before we tell you about their machines, allow us to tell you what sort of an experience awaits if you decide to buy the best that is on offer from Japan. If you happen to visit their dealership, they’d notice if you are a right or a left handed person, and place your beverage, or any stationery to that side of the table accordingly. If you’ve driven to their dealership and parked your car facing towards the wall, by the time you come out, your car will be facing towards the gate so that you can just get in and zoom off.
All this even before you’ve given them your money. If you do that, you stand to experience the very best of Japanese craftsmanship, state-of-the-art engineering and their obsession with quality. It truly reflects in the mirror like paint finish on the bodywork, and the finely crafted switches and dials inside a warm cabin that has been treated with opulence in the best of hide and wood. Our stint began with the flagship, the mighty Lexus LX 450D.
The Lexus LX 450d is powered by a 4461cc V8 diesel that cranks out 650 Nm of twist between 1600 and 2600 clicks and 261 bhp at 3400 rpm. For now, this is the only model in their lineup that has escaped hybrid treatment but promises to return a claimed economy figure of 9.2 kpl. On the road, it is meant to eat the tarmac all day for all its meals and gorge on everything else off it, for dessert. So academic numbers and figures about sprinting are in contrast to the LX’s purpose of existence. But when conjured, it will breach the standstill to 100 kph mark in a respectable 8.6 seconds and go on to hit a top speed of 210 kph.
There are six driving modes to pick from – Eco, Normal, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Custom, which tailor the suspension settings and powertrain responses to provide a driving experience accordingly. We were driving the big SUV on twisty, narrow roads which were slightly busy thanks to the weekend rush. So we decided to gingerly waft through tea country, savouring the luxury of torque, only occasionally making the car rush through some patches.
The initial response from that big V8 is great for a vehicle of this size. And although there is a slight initial lag, as the needle crosses the 1700 rpm mark is when the motor wakes up and makes its presence felt as it pushes the big chunk of expensive metal and everything else with gusto. Should you wish, you may use pedals behind the wheel or slot the premium gear lever in ‘S’ mode and use it to run up and down the six-speed gearbox sequentially. Shifts are smooth, willing, and from our initial experience, the Lexus LX 450d’s performance characteristics are befitting the car’s personality and function. Although, a thorough experience will tell us more.
The steering never even once felt disconnected from the happenings at the front end. It weighs up beautifully as speeds build up and feels natural, unlike most modern units which take pride in being unhinged. While tackling a broken patch that took us uphill towards a tea estate, navigating the LX through a wheel that communicated perfectly about the surface underneath is just the kind of a system that you love when going off the road. Further digging revealed that a system called VFC (Variable Flow Control) governs the flow of steering fluid in response to vehicle speed, steering angle and engine rpm.
Ride and Handling
The LX 450d weighs 3350 kilos and there is no hiding that fact. It feels like you’re piloting an armoured vehicle which is surprisingly athletic for its girth. On roads which are generously peppered with bends around Ooty, the LX in its Sport and Sport+ mode felt taut enough and composed for a vehicle of its size, although if throwing things around bends is what you’re after, and it has to be an SUV, the RX is what you should be looking at. It is the weight of the LX though which makes things feel solid and locked down at all times when the going is smooth, or as rough as it can get.
The LX 450d’s ride quality is dictated directly by an adaptive suspension system, which constantly flexes and contracts according to variable road conditions and driver inputs. So things stiffen up or allow some buffer intelligently. Since we were relegated to the driver’s seat during our experience, evaluating passenger comfort has to be reserved for another day. But going by the gist of things, you could be seated anywhere inside the cabin and comfort is guaranteed. During a brief off-road diversion, the only thing that conveyed what the tyres rolled over was the steering, unless a big rut was encountered which was comfortably flattened under the LX’s weight.
This is what makes the Lexus LX 450d special in our books. It combines Japanese reliability and pairs it with stratospheric opulence, within a package that is designed to take you anywhere where anything on four wheels could possibly go. So there’s multi-terrain select which can be dialled to Mud & Sand, Loose Rock, Mogul, Rock & Dirt and Rock mode when you encounter any of the aforementioned terrain, post which, the system optimises vehicle settings on its own to dismiss any sort of road conditions.
There’s a Crawl Control system which modulates throttle and brakes to allow the driver to concentrate on the job of steering alone during extreme off-road conditions. A Turn Assist feature kicks in when the above system is engaged and reduces the number of turns required on the wheel while going about a tight cornering manoeuvre.
There’s a terrain monitoring system which employs a camera each on all four sides, providing a 360-degree view of the car on the central display when the LX is on the road. When you take it off the tarmac, it adds another view of the vehicle’s underbody to help the driver spot any possible hazards away from his/her view. Along with that, an Active Height Control system automatically adjusts the clearance at each wheel in response to the terrain being tackled. It also lowers the car down to make ingress and egress easier.
The Lexus LX 450d can climb up at a maximum angle of 45 degrees, has an approach angle of 25 degrees, a ramp break over angle of 23 degrees and a departure angle of 20 degrees. You may cross a river with a fording depth of 700mm and 225mm of ground clearance, whereas if you decide to drive across a vertical hill horizontally, the LX won’t tilt over until it breaches the 44 degrees mark and can ride over a kerb height of 630mm comfortably.
Cabin & Features
You could be someone who breaches the six-foot mark when on your feet, but you’d still have to climb inside the LX 450d’s high perched cabin. But once inside, the view is worth the hike. The first thing we did was touch and feel the quality inside, where everything is a treat for your senses. Touchpoints tell a unique story of craftsmanship, fit and finish is exemplary, and one could spend a lot of time inside, simply appreciating the sophistication and quality of things.
There’s a memory setting for the seats and the wheel for multiple drivers, where both can be adjusted electronically in many ways to find that perfect spot. The wrapped in wood and leather steering is a rich thing to grab, where the leather patch can be heated at the touch of a button. Front chairs are supremely comfortable and can have perforations which blow both hot and cold air.
The instrument cluster gets white dials and analogue gauges, where a 4.2-inch TFT screen and a colour HUD on the windscreen provide all the information you need at a glance. We like how there isn’t just a little lamp to tell you if the battery is low on charge or the oil temperature has shot up too high. That information is conveyed by lovely looking old-school gauges.
A large 12.3-inch crisp display sits in the middle and is never obstructs your line of sight through the windscreen. It can be controlled through what Lexus calls a remote touch interface, which is essentially a very rich joystick that can be clicked like a mouse to make your selection.
Surprisingly, the LX 450d misses out on navigation, something which is considered essential these days. You do get a compass though, along with a rich looking analogue clock.
And now for the fanciest feature inside the cabin. A 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. It sounds crisp, clear, and is without a doubt right up there, as the best sounding systems we’ve heard fitted inside a car. It has an inbuilt system which tears the envelope of the compressed music stored on your phone and unfolds the lyrics to make it sound like it had first come out of the recording studio.
There are a couple speakers attached to the rear tailgate too so that you can simply park your car and enjoy the evening party. In fact, they did just that. The LX was parked on the lawn with all its doors open to replace the hotel’s outdoor speaker system. And although I’m not a big fan of new age music, a particular track sounded like this. “The club isn’t the best place to find a lover, so the CAR is where I go.”
There’s a 4-zone climate control system with a feature attached, called the ‘Lexus Climate Concierge‘. What it does is that automatically senses if it’s hot or cold outside, and if a new passenger has just walked in, it directs all its focus towards making the newcomer comfortable by sensing his/her position inside the cabin. Neat! Then there’s a cooling box under the central armrest, which can swallow and cool as many as six little bottles of water.
There’s space where a compatible smartphone can be wirelessly charged, two USB ports, a 3.5mm jack, a 12V power socket in the centre console and one at the back of the centre console box. But the one that beats them all is a 220V power socket in the boot that can power something like a refrigerator if you’re in the mood for a picnic by the side of the lake you just bought.
On sits rather low with knees slightly up in the ventilated rear seat, but the window sills are placed at a lower height too. Under thigh support could’ve been better, but spending time there for a longer duration will reveal the entire story. There’s quite a fair amount of knee room and the reclining backrest has been decently bolstered to hold the rear passengers in place. The central armrest has controls for temperature, operating the sun blinds, and gets cup holders too. There are two individual screens, where each passenger can enjoy their personal content and can also control the volume with individual dials, provided they’re wearing headphones.
Boot space is enormous and so is the 93-litre fuel tank, which can theoretically extend the range of the LX to nearly 800 km on a single refill. The powered rear tailgate is a two stage affair, where the door at the bottom can be opened out to serve as a bench if you reach that spot where you’ve always wanted to build a racetrack and let that LFA hidden inside your garage in London loose.
A few details through images…
I’ve got the power…
Alloy wheels are chunky and designed for the rough
All Seats inside the cabin are powered
Almost everything takes inspiration from the letter ‘L’
Lights inside the cabin are LEDs and can be operated by a swipe gesture
Your compatible phone can be kept there so that it charges wirelessly
No panorama views on this one
There are a host of beautiful looking switches and dials which are a joy to operate
No sat nav. But you do get a compass
The LX 450d is humongous by any standards. It stands 6.11 feet tall, is 6.49 feet wide and extends 16.67 feet sideways. The front looks imposing, courtesy of a single large spindle grille and a wicked 3-eye LED-projector headlamp setup. Shut lines are just about wide to allow a strand of hair through, while the L-themed design is apparent everywhere, from the DRLs, the fog and cornering light setup, to the tail lamps and the chrome lining on the rear quarter glass. This flagship looks imposing, powerful, and intimidates with its immense presence on the road.
In terms of safety, it has been fitted with 10-airbags, Multi-terrain ABS with EBD, Vehicle stability control, Hill Assist Control, an Active Traction Control System and a bomb proof chassis built from high tensile steel.
Summing it up
There’s been this very popular argument about the Toyota LC 200 being a lot cheaper while offering the same mechanicals in a slightly different body shape. Makes for a good argument. But then how can you argue about the choices we make. For instance, we sometimes pay four times over a standard seat to pick a club class recliner, just to experience a little royalty. Although you could be seated anywhere inside the movie cinema hall and you’d still be looking at the same screen, listening to the same audio quality. But you choose to watch it from a different level. And it is just that behaviour which will make those who prefer exclusivity and experiencing the very best that there is, to settle for this Lexus flag bearer.
Here are the technical specifications of the Lexus LX450d:
|Engine Type||1VD-FTV – 8 Cylinder V Type|
|Max. Output||195 kw (261 BHP)|
|Max. Torque||650Nm @ 1600-2600 rpm|
|Fuel Consumption||10.4 L/100km [9.6km/L]|
|CO₂ Emissions||275 g/km|
|Max. Speed||210 km/h|
|Acceleration||8.6 sec (0 – 100 km/h)|
|Suspension||4 Wheel Active Height Control & Adaptive Variable Suspension|
|Brake||Disc Brake – 18″(Front)/ 17″ (Rear)|
|Tire||285 / 60R18|
|Transmission Type||6 Speed AT with AI (Artificial Intelligence) Shift|
|Curb Weight||2,660 – 2,840 kg|
|Gross Vehicle Weight||3,350 kg|
|Fuel Tank Capacity||93 L|