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Lexus RX450h SE-I: Test Drive

Date: 07 May 2009   |   Author:

Lexus RX450h SE-I rear
Category: Large 4x4
P11D price: £45,090
Key rival: Mercedes M-class

This is the premium hybrid that could give the petrol-electric technology a real boost.

Not because the car itself is outstanding, but because the claimed figures are such a huge step forward that for any company driver looking for a large off-roader, it's financially ridiculous to go anywhere else.

The new Lexus RX450h, arriving in July, is powered by a 3.5-litre petrol engine combined with an electric motor that either helps add to performance or, at below 25mph, runs the car on its own, with the petrol engine deactivated.

The previous RX400h worked in a very similar way, and had class-leading emissions of 192g/km: the new RX450h has a CO2 figure of 148g/km, making it the only large 4x4 to get below the 161g/km capital allowance boundary.

The comparable BMW X5 3.0d is at 214g/km, 66g/km higher, while the Mercedes ML320 CDI, probably the RX's closest rival, comes in at 246g/km, 98g/km above the Lexus. In benefit-in-kind terms alone that represents a saving in the region of £3000 per year for the RX, in BIK band 14 compared to the BMW's 33 and the Mercedes' 35%. That's with a £45k P11D that's around £5000 more than either German model.

From a company's point of view, too, the Lexus wins out, actually shading the verdict in terms of whole-life costs despite that £5000 head start given to the BMW.

The figures can only be described as astounding and class-changing, so no wonder the Japanese premium brand is bullish about doubling its segment share to around 20%.

Lexus is also generous with the...