Lexus has entered the luxury SUV market in South Africa with the RX300, which comes in a fair bit cheaper than its competitors – the Mercedes M-Class and BMW X5. How will it fare?

Lexus has entered the luxury SUV market in South Africa with the RX300, which comes in a fair bit cheaper than its competitors – the Mercedes M-Class and BMW X5. How will it fare?

Though it is making its first appearance in South Africa, the RX300 is a bestseller in the United States. Lexus averaged sales of 78 500 per year for the past four years in the United States. The second generation that will go on sale in May in South Africa and it is the first right-hand model to be launched worldwide.

It is powered by a 3,0-litre V6 1MZ-FE engine mated to a five-speed electronically controlled ECT automatic transmission, with a manual sequential shift. A three-stage Acoustic Control Induction System (ACIS) varies the intake manifold’s length, according to throttle opening, aiding engine performance and smoothness.

The V6 develops 150 kW at 5 600 r/min and a torque peak of 283 N.m at 4 500 r/min. According to Lexus, the RX300 achieves 80 per cent of its peak torque from just 1 200 r/min.

Lexus claims a top speed of 180 km/h and 0-100 km/h acceleration of 9,0 seconds. The manufacturer also gives the fuel consumption as 16,9 litres/100 km in urban areas, 9,4 in extra urban areas and a combined figure of 12,2 litres/100 km.

It has a rigid monocoque bodyshell, all-independent MacPherson strut suspension, speed-sensitive rack and pinion steering and the ABS brakes with electronic brake force distribution (EBD) and brake assist (BAS). The Lexus’ permanent four-wheel drive system is mated to electronic traction control and vehicle stability control.

Standard safety equipment includes dual-stage driver and passenger airbags, a driver’s knee-protecting airbag, a whiplash-lessening front seat design, large torso-protecting sidebags and head curtain shield airbags for front and rear occupants.

Luxury features include a multi-disc CD changer linked to satellite steering wheel controls and eight speakers, electrically adjusted front seats, a multi-function trip information display and leather seat facings.

“The introduction of the RX300 is a very significant step forward for Lexus in South Africa,” said Johan van Zyl, President and CEO of Toyota South Africa. “Until now local Lexus dealers have been limited to selling four-door sedans, in contrast with most Lexus dealers in other parts of the world, who have a wider range of models on offer,” he said.

The vehicle is aimed at customers who want a premium quality SUV for refined on road usage rather than bundu-bashing.

The RX300 is up against the X5 3,0 auto at R484 000 and ML350 auto for R487 000. The Lexus costs R462 700. Lexus hopes to sell 20 units a month.

“Some of our products have been seen to be fairly expensive, but the price positioning can start to change as duties come down and rebates start to flow from Toyota SA’s growing exports of built-up vehicles,” said Francois Loubser, vice-president of marketing and communications of Toyota South Africa. “The Lexus will have a pricing advantage over competitors and there is a need for value for money products.”

The RX300 comes with a three year/100 000 km warranty and a five-year/90 000km service plan included in the price.

How will it do against the M-Class and X5?

Original article from Car