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FOR those worried the six-cylinder Lexus had been muscled out of the Singapore market by the four-cylinder turbo, fret no more. Lexus has finally ushered in the RX350 with its familiar silence and smoothness.
Despite being positioned as a mid-sized model, the fourth-generation RX is large and luxurious. Hence, the V6 drivetrain is, arguably, the ideal match for this upscale SUV.
The naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 is the familiar Lexus unit with 296 hp and 370, mated to the latest eight-speed automatic transmission to drive all four wheels.
The engine has been redesigned with the D-4S fuel injection system which combines port injection with direct injection. This twin injection approach is more precise in creating a homogenous fuel/air mixture, thus increasing charging efficiency and power output.
And to maximise torque across the rev range, Variable Valve Timing with intelligence Wide (VVT-iW) has been included on the intake side, while the exhaust side retains VVT-i.
As a result, the RX350's V6 is the highest performing RX engine ever.
On the road, the drivetrain is a silken affair which, in typical Lexus style, remains remarkably muted even under hard acceleration.
The new eight-speed automatic transmission's quick and seamless shifts further enhance the hushed cabin of the RX350, with punchy performance from stationary, and frugal cruising in the extremely tall eighth gear.
The RX's all-wheel-drive (AWD) system is also front-biased for fuel efficiency and torque is directed to the rear axle when more traction is required, for example, when moving off briskly from start. You can see it in action in the multi-function display's AWD animation.
With a big displacement of 3.5 litres and without the lag from forced induction, torque delivery is linear and the RX350 accelerates smoothly and cleanly.
Despite weighing about two tonnes, the RX350 hustles from zero to 100 kmh in 7.9 seconds. The full-colour head-up display projects the speed and other info like rpm and current gear.
For a big car, the RX350 hides its bulk well with its manoeuvrability. It is suitably nimble in the city, while reassuringly stable at higher speeds on the expressway.
At 4.89 metres long and 1.69 metres high, the RX has a 2,790 mm wheelbase that feels more generous because of the practically flat floor for the rear seat passengers.
Both the RX350 Luxury and RX Turbo Luxury have the same big body. Both also have AWD and remarkably, the exact same level of equipment. The sole difference is that the Turbo has an auto start/stop feature, hence the minimal weight difference of 15 kg less for the Turbo.
But since the two-litre turbocharged engine only develops 234 hp and 350 Nm and is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the century sprint takes a bit longer at 9.5 seconds.
Also very different is the price, with the RX350 Luxury costing S$60,000 more than the RX Turbo Luxury.
So is this gap big enough to consider a two-litre turbo instead? If you have to have the silky power of a V6, then the answer is obvious.
Engine 3,456cc V6
Transmission 8-speed auto
Max power 296 hp @ 6,300 rpm
Max torque 370 Nm @ 4,600 rpm
0-100 kmh 7.9 secs
Top speed 200 kmh
CO2 emissions 223 g/km
Average OMV S$71,500
Price S$338,000 (with COE)
Distributor Borneo Motors