New Lexus RX300 Makes Its World Debut | Part Three

New Lexus RX300

 

Dynamism With Refinement

The European version of the new RX300 uses a development of the transversely mounted high-performance 3-litre V6 engine of the original model. Power is increased from 201bhp to 204bhp by refinement of the intake and exhaust systems. A combination of these engine refinements with a more aerodynamic body and higher-performance tyres increases the top speed from 112mph to 124mph.

A new five-speed automatic transmission is used for the first time. In addition to offering additional driver appeal with a sequential manual gearchange, combined fuel economy is also improved as a result; from 21.7mpg for the original RX300, to 22.4mpg for the new model. Thanks to this, the new Lexus RX300 also complies with EURO IV emission regulations. The new gearbox is combined with a new drivetrain in which the torque distribution between the front and rear wheels is electronically controlled by the Traction Control (TRC), rather than the previous mechanical control by a viscous limited-slip differential. The new TRC system provides more precise control, providing smooth traction even when the throttle pedal is used roughly.

The improved engine and new drivetrain set new standards in refinement, even beyond the class leading standards set by the original RX300. One key to this is the straightening of both the exhaust system and the driveline routes under the car, to minimise resonance and vibration. As a principle source of vibration is under hard acceleration, the front section of the driveline is canted forward by 2 degrees to allow it to assume the optimum straight line under load.

This attention to detail is matched by similar refinements in structure and sound deadening to ensure that wind and road noise levels are the lowest in the class. The new RX300 has been developed with the use of the Maibara wind tunnel, which was also used for the development of the Shinkansen Bullet Train and is capable of generating wind speeds up to 250mph. The wind tunnel’s very low background noise allows Lexus to concentrate on the reduction of wind noise to all-time low levels. Computational Fluid Dynamics research was also used, with areas such as the positioning of the parked windscreen wipers and the shaping of the A-pillars being refined to reduce wind noise by an average of 5dB in all frequencies.

"The development team strived in improving the new RX’s performance in the areas of high frequency noise, idling booming noise, vibration and wind noise. As a result, passengers can enjoy a relaxed drive at cruise speeds and an absence of noise and vibration at idling speeds. However, the excellent NV performance of the Lexus RX will not deter its driver from enjoying superior driving pleasure," said Chief Engineer Okane. "The new RX combines this with Advanced Styling, Dynamic Performance, Safety Equipment and some outstanding features – that is how it should be for the new Lexus RX."

Original, Attractive Interior Design

"The new interior design must have originality and attractions suitable for the new breed of SUV buyer," says Mr Okane. "The interior concept reflects the dynamic style of the exterior."

As well as the customary standards of Lexus comfort, ambience, practicality and luxury, the RX combines the latest contemporary design with the highest quality materials. The interior design is sporty but spacious, solid but luxurious, in a light and roomy cabin trimmed with a choice of three colours which match the ivory, black or light grey leather seats.

The main instrument cluster in front of the driver is housed in a distinctive three-pod design with a central speedometer, flanked by tachometer and a multi-function display.

The dashboard features a distinctive brushed metal surround on each side of the centre console, containing the 7-inch screen for the optional Lexus Navigator, climate and audio controls. An 11-speaker premium audio system will also be available based on Lexus’ unique collaboration with the world’s most exclusive maker of home audio systems, Mark Levinson.

The central ‘cool metal’ trim is complemented by curved light wood in the lower console containing the selector lever for the sequential automatic transmission, and as highlights on the steering wheel, door trims and on the centre console box between the front seats. The adjustable console box can either slide forward to give a feeling of continuity with the centre console, or backwards to allow a ‘walkthrough’ between the front seats.

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

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