Twenty-five years ago, Lexus balanced a pyramid of champagne glasses atop the hood of an LS 400 as it hummed along a dyno at a simulated speed of above 200 km/h. The message: buy a Lexus and enjoy serene balance and exquisite Japanese craftsmanship; luxury without a single jarring note.
Now of course, the message would need to be a little different – perhaps a prize-winning Wagyu bull set loose in a Swarovski crystal store with a half-pint of wasabi up its bottom. Shards and disruption: from genteel rice-pudding to anime blade-strike, Lexus’s new design language has the subtlety of a Kill Bill fight scene and the angularity of a Dragon Ball Z haircut. Styling levels are OVER NINE THOUSAND.
Dang. This is a bit like when you go into one of those nouveau cuisine restaurants and order a baked potato, only to receive a deconstructed dish featuring splintered carbohydrate topped by what suspiciously looks like crystal meth. Absolutely no one could accuse Toyota of producing a boring design here, as the new RX (particularly the F-Sport model) is the wildest-looking thing on the road this side of a BMW i8.
It’s more than a bit of a departure for the RX line, born way back when as the Toyota Harrier. Formerly, this pudgy crossover had all the personality of a tax accountant, and all the money saving capabilities of a very clever tax accountant. It did not break. It did not disturb. You could drive it for 300,000 km and it’d still wake up every morning and ferry you to work uncomplaining without squeak, rattle, or colossal transmission failure. Just try that with a German luxury car – it’d leave you on the side of the road quicker than you can say “coil packs.”
Quiet dependability and comfort has a luxuriant quality all its own, but is not particularly exciting. Realizing that RX fans are becoming an aging demographic, Lexus seeks to galvanize a younger audience with lashings of daring style, and a car that is composed of at least 95 percent honeycomb grille. I can’t see this aggressively futuristic design aging any better than, say, the 1961 Plymouth Fury it so closely resembles, but in the instant, in the sheetmetal, the futurism is understandable.
So anyway, LED swooshes under standard HID headlights, sharply creased styling lines, a “floating” roof, a steeply raked rear glass, and two available spindle grilles – one like an industrial baloney slicer, and the other like something Lenny from Motorhead would use as a practice amp. It’s worth noting that this daring look is the result of CEO Akio Toyoda sending engineers back to the drawing board when their production model wasn’t extreme enough; getting these sheer edges and complex angles was apparently a real engineering headache.
The new car is longer and wider than the outgoing model, with increases to interior legroom and overall space. The coefficient of drag is a very respectable 0.34, but while the RX remains a five-seater only, the official cargo capacity specs have essentially halved. The 2015 model boasted 1,132 L of space behind the rear seats and specs for the new one suggest 521 L is on offer. It doesn’t look all that much smaller in footprint, so I’d suggest it’s the slope of the rear glass that squishes things, rather than space below the cargo cover.