One-day test: Lexus RX350 Special Edition
There is no denying that the Internet has made certain aspects of life much easier, over complicated some and revolutionised others. One of the latter is buying a car. You can now jump online and pull specification sheets of all the vehicles that you are considering, read about a shootout between two of those cars, and even watch a review (like on the RPM TV website).
If you are particularly brave you can buy a car on eBay without ever physically feeling the bodywork or the interior. The Internet has made it possible to decide on what you want, or what is valuable to you in a car before you see it, and the test drive is really just a formality to make sure that the wheels don’t fall off after the first corner.
But while this is ruthlessly efficient, there are certain cars that you will simply overlook because, on paper, they just do not stack up against the competition. One such car is today’s one-day test, the Lexus RX350 Special Edition.
The RX350 Special Edition costs R724 000 (R691 000 for the normal RX350) for which you get almost everything as standard, and the special means that instead of a leather finished interior you get what Lexus calls Bamboo wood trim.
But even with this unique interior trim, the Lexus does not perform to well if you take the quantitative approach and try and compare Asking Price VS. Kilowatt Output, or the amount of Cutting Edge Technology per Square Centimetre of Interior.
That is not to say that the Lexus is lacking; under the bonnet there is still a 3,5-litre naturally aspirated V6 that produces 204 kW and 346 Nm of torque, and is linked to a six-speed automatic gearbox. Those figures are fine, just not awe inspiring.
The styling of the Lexus SUV is also not particularly moving, so getting to know the car through photos or the digital brochure might also not significantly move your heart towards the RX350.
But it is not until you actually sit inside, and drive a Lexus that you realise that their engineers have recognized something that we have all forgotten: you do not drive a collection of statistics, you drive a car, and Lexus knows how to create a car.
When you drive a Lexus, or a RX350 in this case, you appreciate that the engineers have not tried to maximise the amount of power from the engine so that it looks good on paper, but rather so that it reacts to driver inputs in such a way to make the whole package feel flawless.
It is just effortless, right down to how much give the big leather seats have in them and the amount of travel in the suspension. The styling is different and the interior is quite button-heavy, but it is still luxurious in a way that only Lexus knows how to do.
In a digital age, the Lexus RX350 is an analogue car, but not in a way that it has been left behind, but rather that it understand that there is more to driving than numbers. It is about feeling and Lexus has this feeling down.