Story by Lexus: 24th February 2000
RX300 WILL BE LEXUS’ SPORTS UTILITY VEHICLE
A luxury vehicle with high equipment levels and permanent four wheel drive - but without the bulk of most leisure vehicles - the Lexus RX concept car at the Geneva Motor Show, is a fore-runner to the production car which will go on sale throughout Europe in the autumn.
Lexus RX is a marked departure from most vehicles with off-road capability. It is the first real luxury Sports Utility Vehicle and is being displayed at the Geneva Motor Show to whet the appetites of potential buyers for a style of vehicle which is new to Europe.
Designed in Europe at Toyota’s European Office of Creation (EPOC), the RX concept car is based on the current RX sold in the USA. It was intended always to be a luxury project with a distinct difference from most recreational vehicles.
"Off-road vehicles do not usually have a harmonious body style," said exterior designer Sotires Kovos, "But RX concept follows the styling principles of a luxury car. Front and rear bumpers, auxiliary lights, mirrors are fully integrated in to a ‘one volume’ shape which is both stylish and practical."
Lexus RX is primarily a luxury vehicle, with the standards of comfort and equipment that buyers expect in a premium brand. It is powered by a V6 3-litre engine with VVT-i (variable valve timing intelligent) and has a four-speed automatic gearbox and permanent four wheel drive. Equipment includes full leather upholstery with "baseball" stitching, in-dash CD player and satellite navigation system.
Interior styling touches include brushed aluminium on the dashboard and subtle chrome flashes on the steering wheel. Both front and rear seats recline and there is an unobstructed cargo area behind the rear seat. Unlike traditional off-road vehicles which have small diameter wheels with high profile tyres, the RX300 has 19 inch wheels running low profile tyres.
"Demand for Sports Utility Vehicles in Europe is growing as people’s lifestyles change," said Lexus Division director Javier Contijoch. "We want to get the reaction of potential buyers from all over Europe for this vehicle and Geneva is the ideal place. The Swiss market shows strong demand for four wheel drive and leisure vehicles, and it attracts people from all over Europe whose opinions we will value."
Lexus has steadily expanded its range of products in Europe and in addition to the new LS430 which is making its European debut at Geneva, both the GS300 and IS200 luxury sedans are selling well throughout Europe. In the USA it boasts an even wider range of vehicles and had total sales of 185,890 units in 1999, an increase of 18%.
The RX300 was an instant success in the USA, the market for in which it was first launched. The market for sports and recreational vehicles in the USA is growing fast, and in its first full year (1999) the RX300 has sold 73,500 units.
Lexus has already announced that an RX300, considerably modified for European tastes, and with revised suspension which has been developed following extensive testing in Europe, will be launched in the autumn. Full details of the European specification will be published nearer the launch date.
RX300 / SPECIFICATION
Note: the concept car shown is based on the USA specification, and the above details are intended only as a guide.