It has been fifteen years since the Lexus RX 400h made use of the self generating electricity, a pioneer for Lexus in the hybrid segment, since then the UX 250h has become the brand’s staple hybrid workhorse for all intents and purposes. Now in its fourth generation, the UX is pitted against its ancestor at the Technical centre and Proving Ground at Zaventem in Belgium.
The perfect weather made up for some picturesque scenery in Belgium, and the 400h performed flawlessly, delivering refined performance, stability and steering response as was demanded from the car. The UX 250h on the other hand unsurprisingly outperformed the other, a feat which Herwig Daenens attributed to Master driver Akio Toyoda’s commitment that Lexus needs to be ‘fun to drive’, which has led to stringent performance benchmarks for the car’s almost hatchback like nimble driving characteristics. “ It was incredibly fun around the track today. This is thanks mainly to its new and super-rigid GA-C platform that makes extensive use of adhesives, its low centre of gravity resulting in reduced chassis roll and precision of the electric power steering,” said the hybrid drivetrain expert.
Lexus is one of the pioneers of the self-charging hybrids and has perfected the technology involved in the development and implementation of the Hybrid technology that does not need to be plugged in, but rather stays reliant on the engine’s acceleration and braking to generate power and release it when the on-board computer deems in viable. This makes the cars a unique type of hybrid which are energy efficient as well as environment friendly without robbing the vehicles of the charms of a combustion engine.
The Lexus 400h used a 3.3l V6 in tandem with electric motors, and became the showstopper for Lexus with its self-charging capability, etching its name into the history books as the world’s first luxury hybrid and how it changed the fortunes for Lexus. The 288 Volts battery pack was revolutionary at the time, and located under the rear seat for a lower centre of gravity and control. In comparison to the RX 300, it proved to be 33% more fuel efficient overall, with a 67% improvement in cities and paved the way for other cars to follow.
The car is now slouch even by today’s standards, and has a very calm and smooth air about it as it goes around the track, even after 15 years the Lexus’ hybrid transaxle design is leagues ahead of its competition’s transmission designs which have since broken down, whereas the 2004 built RX 400h is still going smooth without hiccups.
The UX 250h is a revolutionary design compared to the RX, being in the 4th generation, the crossover has enhanced hybrid technology and greater fuel efficiency, while allowing for the full EV mode to be engaged for longer durations. Lexus and Toyota have registered over 24,000 patents in hybrid and EV technology, a testament to the Japanese automaker’s drive towards better and improved hybrid technology. The patents have been open to use by anyone, royalty free for the development of electrified mobility solutions since 2018.
The 2l engine in the UX has been tested for more than ten million kilometers, which was chosen out of the sixty different prototypes and is the most thermally efficient engine to be fitted in any production car. The battery pack is similar to the one used in the RX but has been upgraded to have greater capacity and a smaller footprint, which allows for a much more compact design, in 25 years the design has lost 50% of its weight and 60 % of its size.
The UX looks much bolder beside the RX, featuring a sharper look, with aerodynamically efficient designs integrated into the bodywork. The RX has an air of luxury about it that only Lexus’ from that era carry, the refinement inside the roomy cabin, loaded with multi-zone climate control and 11-speaker Mark Levinson system and High Intensity Discharge headlamps that even today are signs of a pure-bred Lexus.
The UX 250h has design cues that have been developed since the legendary LFA supercar. “ Things like the driver-focussed cockpit and instruments, figure-hugging leather seats and LFA-inspired steering wheel all put me in the mood for driving today,” said Herwig Daenens.” said Daenens about the design elements.
|UX 250h||RX 400h|
|Power||135 kW||200 kW|
|Combined fuel consumption (l/100km)||5,3||8,1|
|CO2 emissions (g/km)||102||192|
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