New Lexus RX300 Makes Its World Debut | Part Two

Styled for a Dynamic & High Performance Image

The new Lexus RX is distinguished from its predecessor by bold new looks, which combine the most advanced elements of SUV styling with a sporting and dynamic image. The RX shares styling cues with other Lexus models, in particular its distinctive ‘C-post’ rear pillar design. The front grille and headlights reinforce this family feel and continue the identity of the current model.

The modern and distinctive shape intelligently disguises the fact that it is bigger and roomier than most of its segment rivals. At 4730mm in length, the new Lexus RX is 155mm longer than its predecessor and 25mm wider, with a 100mm longer wheelbase for additional passenger and luggage room.

The familiar Lexus grille is combined with further Lexus styling cues, including modern, clear glass lamps front and rear, wide wheel arches and a rising window line. The raked A-pillar and forward slant to the C-pillar create a sense of urgency, matching the RX’s dynamic performance. The front end of the new generation RX is marked with a powerful bulging bonnet line dipping in a wing-shape around the grille to the combined front bumper and aerodynamic fairing.

The rear end styling is enhanced by a distinctive hexagonal rear window shape, combined with an integral rear spoiler and rear lamps which use the latest LED (light emitting diode) technology rather than traditional filament bulbs. These are both more energy efficient and a significant active safety item. The LED elements light up 10 times faster than a conventional lamp, 15 milliseconds as opposed to 150 to 200 ms. This equates to an extra 6 metres of reaction time at 60mph.

Dynamic Performance in all Conditions

The new RX has added engaging dynamics to the expected Lexus refinement in any circumstance. This is aided by the exceptional rigidity of the new body structure, while an improved front MacPherson strut suspension system includes a new coil spring design, which gives greater lateral force control, allowing better control and a smoother ride. Revised suspension bushes complement an upgraded power steering system, to create a linear vehicle movement during initial steering input, resulting in improved cornering and steering response.

At the rear, a dual-link strut suspension system is used in combination with a new, more rigid rear axle design. Parallel to this, coils and shock absorbers feature a new layout, engineered to achieve a flatter ride. Both front and rear suspension systems are further complemented by ‘high reaction’ shock absorber developments to achieve high response and high damping force at small amplitudes.

In addition, a new 4-wheel air suspension will be available that offers a still higher level of performance and refinement. This optional feature provides greater ride control together with an auto-levelling function, plus three additional modes to alter ride height through a range of 60mm.

The ‘Lo’ mode lowers vehicle height by 15mm for better handling, while ‘Hi’ mode raises vehicle height by 30mm for off-road capability in case of emergencies. Above 60mph the air suspension automatically lowers the vehicle by 15mm to provide greater high-speed stability. When the ignition is turned off, the new RX automatically assumes ‘Access’ mode, lowering vehicle height by 30mm, to aid easier access or exit by the driver and passengers.

Stylish five-spoke 18-inch alloy wheels will be available fitted with 235/55R18 high performance tyres, enhancing driver feedback and cornering performance. Larger 319mm front brake discs are now used, while an increase in front brake piston size and reduction of brake pedal stroke ensures more linear and powerful braking performance.

Braking performance is further enhanced by the use of Brake Assist (BA). A key feature of this particular system is that the timing and degree of braking assistance is designed to maximise emergency stopping performance, yet ensure that the driver doesn’t discern anything unusual about the braking operation. It is combined with VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), which monitors the vehicle's behaviour during cornering and maintains vehicle stability by correcting oversteer or understeer before it occurs.

continues... | Part Three
Published 5 January 2003 Melanie Carter

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