First drive: the non-hybrid Lexus RX200t

I thought you’d already tested the Lexus RX…

We have, but in environment-appeasing petrol-electric hybrid form. This one’s a bit more conventional, with the very same 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine from the RC200t coupe and, lo and behold, a proper six-speed automatic gearbox in place of the hybrid’s droney CVT.

Good news.

Indeed. It makes 235bhp and 258lb ft of torque, which allows for 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds with all-wheel drive. Go for the two-wheel drive one, and you’ll get there 0.3secs faster, while both have a top speed of 124mph.

What’s it like? 

Not quick. Like in the RC200t, the gearbox feels as though it’s been tuned to mimic the CVT of the hybrid, which is odd because it’s a different gearbox altogether.

There are no paddles on the wheel so switching cogs manually has to be done by knocking the gearlever to one side and flicking it backwards and forwards. Things get a bit ponderous in manual, so best leave it in auto, and avoid its Sport mode altogether.

Kickdown can be a bit lazy, but the rest of the time it does a reasonable job of being in the right gear at the right time, which is just about all you can ask of a decent auto ‘box.

Is it comfy?

Very. Shifts are smooth (mostly) and the engine is quiet and refined when you aren’t asking it to gird its loins, when it gets a bit rougher. It’s all very Lexus-y, and not much less refined than the hybrid when you’re cruising, which is what you should be doing 100 per cent of the time.

Of course this is all helped by the interior, which feels tremendously well screwed together. The seats are some of the comfiest we’ve sat in this year, and even without the Mark Leveson upgrade, the stereo is rather good.

See our bigger review of the Lexus RX450h for more on what the RX is like inside.

Should I have this over the hybrid?

Tricky. In mixed situations, the RX200t is more or less as economical as the hybrid, whose electric motor only really pays dividends around town. And the cheapest RX200t is also a whopping £7,000 less to buy, coming in at less than £40k, though they are separated by £4,000 in like-for-like specs.

If you live in the countryside and want something that looks different and is incredibly comfortable, you could do worse than an RX200t. After all, it isn’t German, and that’ll be enough for some.

But if you live in the city, and you buy into the RX’s, erm, unique styling and way of going about its business, you may as well have the hybrid. It’s not like you’re going to clang it everywhere, is it? You’ll have those wooshy sci-fi noises to go with your sci-fi styling, too…

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