Lexus RX is best high rider the company has produced

Lexus' latest RX pushes all the right buttons and gives its competitors a run for their money

If you are tempted by modern and stylish crossovers such as the Porsche Macan or Range Rover Evoque, add the latest Lexus RX to your list.

This new generation high rider is the best that Lexus has produced and it will give the European premium SUVs more than a good run for their money.

It is a visually stunning car. Even from 20 paces away, you are bowled over by its design.

With its sharp origami-like creases, it looks more like a wild concept vehicle than a regular production model.

It has some resemblance to the smaller NX crossover launched earlier, but with better proportions - it does not look as squat or as abrupt as the NX.

  • SPECS/LEXUS RX200T (LUXURY)

  • Price: $271,000 with COE

    Engine: 1,998cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual override

    Power: 238bhp at 4,800rpm

    Torque: 350Nm at 1,650-4,000rpm

    0-100kmh: 9.5 seconds

    Top speed: 200kmh

    Fuel consumption: 8.4 litres/100km

    Agent: Borneo Motors

In many cars, the rear is a weak area, appearing too fat, too plain, too busy or too constricted.

The RX does not have this weakness. Every angle is well executed and purposeful.

Excluding the LFA, it easily qualifies as the most handsome model in the Lexus stable today.

Inside, the car has an attractive blend of luxury and sportiness.

A 12.3-inch infotainment monitor dominates a streamlined fascia. Leather-lined panels are everywhere, but the cabin does not end up looking old or stodgy.

Start up the engine and you will notice a colour head-up display that provides more information than most others.

You will also notice how refined the car is.

Despite a hint of turbo whir, the RX200t's 2-litre four-cylinder engine is almost as smooth as the V6's found in its predecessors.

What impresses most is how unobstrusively the engine fires up with its stop-start function.

None of the other cars fitted with this fuel-saving system come close.

The refinement extends to the way the car moves.

While the previous RX was commendable on this front, the latest car takes it a step further by eliminating the bounciness that is often associated with crossovers.

It has the best ride quality among its peers, yet its handling is not compromised.

The car now has a coupe-like confidence on the road, with unwavering tractability and superb roadholding for a tallish vehicle.

Its steering is a little detached and the car betrays a hint of understeer at higher speeds. Other than that, it is a hoot to drive.

This of course, goes very well with the sporty appearance of the car.

Despite its height, it actually looks more planted than a couple of the "coupe-SUVs" in town.

And unlike other SUVs with this sporty stance, space is not compromised in the RX. There is plenty of room in the second row and in the boot area.

As far as features go, the RX is now comparable with the Continental choices.

Besides the wide-screen infotainment monitor and comprehensive head-up display, it has memory seats with comfort access, ventilated front seats, motorised tailgate with contactless opening function, cabin ambient lighting, and electric parking brakes with auto-hold.

Unlike in European cars, the last feature in the RX has to be activated every time you start a journey. And the parking brakes' self-release function works even if you do not belt up.

The RX is a drool-worthy package. Dollar for dollar, it offers more functionality, comfort and refinement than its European peers.

While it may not be as dynamic as one or two of them, it has an unmatched build quality and better real-world efficiency.

And did I mention, it looks really good?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'Hey, good looking'. Print Edition | Subscribe