Audi Q7 2008 Review
Nudging its electronically governed 236km/h top speed, the behemoth Audi Q7 cannonballed down the...
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Part of the reason is that the new eight-seater Lexus is based on the similarly competent Landcruiser, although Lexus claims the LX570 is an even better performer and 'the most capable vehicle it has ever produced.’
The benchmark Cruiser is a good starting point on which to build another offroader, although they couldn’t pinpoint exactly how much of the vehicle had been borrowed – about 30 per cent by weight was the final answer.
However they did acknowledge that the doors transferred straight over, and since their sculpting cues have to flow into the rest of the body, this leaves you in no doubt about the LX570’s parentage. From not too far a distance, passing traffic could easily imagine they’re seeing the next Cruiser rather than the latest Lexus.
However if you go deeper than the skin there are some major differences, the largest of which is the 5.7-litre petrol V8 under the bonnet (a full litre more than its donor stablemate).
Mated to a six-speed sequential automatic transmission, the engine develops 270kW of power at 5600rpm (up 100kW) and a hefty 520Nm of torque at 3200rpm on premium fuel. On 91RON you’re likely to get at least a 2kW drop.
Lexus says the LX570 will get to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds – no small task for a vehicle weighing in at 2740kg (and no surprise that it will use 14.8L/100km in combined driving, which is reportedly an 8 per cent improvement on the outgoing model).
But it also makes for a 3500kg braked towing capacity, plus you can load the Lexus with about 750kg of people and cargo and there’s about 700 litres of space to play with once you drop the third row.
While it has pinched the Cruiser’s full-time 4WD system, traction and stability controls, it has now also been given a lockable centre differential that sends 60 per cent of the drive to the rear, and can send up to 70 per cent if needed.
A centre-mounted toggle allows you to change between high and low range, and while there is no option of getting the amazing Kinetic Suspension System available on the big Toyota, the front and redesigned rear suspension on the Lexus gives a claimed 15 per cent improvement in wheel stroke, stretching to 23cm for tough terrain. It can also be directed to lower for easier access; kneeling like an obedient camel for people to climb aboard.
A crawl function that is switchable between 1, 3 and 5km/h can take over the engine and brakes in extreme situations, leaving you simply steering the Lexus while clambers up and down the route.
There are just two models, opening with the $136,000 Prestige which is kitted out with all the usual luxury features, plus extras like a reversing camera, four-zone climate control with 28 outlets, heating and power adjustment to the first and second rows, 10 airbags (including roll-sensing curtains that cover all three rows), 18” alloy wheels (and yes, full-size spare) high-intensity adaptive headlights that essentially go around corners before you do, and a thumping 19-speaker Mark Levinson DVD entertainment system.
The $151,700 Sport Luxury gets an extra DVD screen with wireless headphones to keep them happy in the back, front and side cameras with colour wide screen broadcast for better visibility, radar cruise control that can lock onto vehicles in front to adjust your speed and also alert a pre-crash system if it senses a collision is likely.
The three rows of leather-clad seating are powered to adjust quickly to a wide variety of arrangements. In addition to sliding, the second row splits 40/20/40 and has a new tumble function that means it’s easier for passengers to get past and into the third row.
And that final row is the really clever one, with buttons near the tailgate that can fold and stow the seats into the floor or tip them over onto their backs as 'stadium seating’ under the tailgate for picnics and epic weekend school sport events.
Lexus already has orders for 100, and aims to sell about 360 per year — of which about 90 per cent will be the top spec. And they hope a fair proportion will be sales stolen from other makers of what Toyota Chairman Emeritus John Conomos called 'more recent arrivals in the luxury offroader market’ – for which, read the rabbits as being mainly German breeds; Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne and even perhaps the big BMW.
Lexus says only about 20 per cent of the LX570’s buyers will take it offroad, which is a bit of a shame because they’ll never find out what it can do. And what it can do is tackle pretty well anything you’d expect to be able to conquer in a LandCruiser, but with more bells and whistles as company.
Using the crawl control – and the full extent of the wheel travel — we were able to inch our way over a steep set of lumps that would have given us badly cricked backs in a less capable vehicle.
It responds well to the steering, and the sport/normal/comfort variable suspension allows you to dial up varying ride and handling characteristics at whim. Sport cuts out a fair amount of body roll on the bitumen, while normal and comfort work for both town and country driving.
And there’s no faulting the ability of the smooth and muscular V8 engine, which gave great effort off the line and kept pulling well all through the range. Kick it and it responds with a surge forward – and a satisfying roar of agreement.
The switchable ranges work well from the toggle on the centre console, but we managed to completely halt the Lexus by trying to change from low back up to high on the fly – yes, idiotic move on our part. It stressed out the drivetrain, which found a false neutral between the two transfer cases and decided it wanted nothing more to do with us for the next ten minutes while we went through every possible combination of settings and switching-offs to try and bring it back online.
Again, it was our error. But it was also a warning to prevent the kids hitting the toggle with a 'what does this do?’.
What will keep them out of your hair – and your control panel – is the fantastic Levinson entertainment system, which with great speakers and surround sound offers the kind of crisp quality you’d expect from a home theatre.
It all adds up to a great vehicle, but at the end of the day, we couldn’t help wondering why – apart from badge envy – you’d hand over the extra for the LX570 when the top-spec LandCruiser 200 is already so damned good.
Lexus says the LX570 'blurs the line between a luxury sedan and a 4WD’ but to some extent it also blurs the line between the Lexus and the luxury-spec Cruiser.
|LX470 (4x4)||4.7L, ULP, 5 SP AUTO||$28,710 – 34,540||2008 Lexus LX 2008 LX470 (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|LX570 Prestige||5.7L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$21,450 – 27,170||2008 Lexus LX 2008 LX570 Prestige Pricing and Specs|
|LX570 Sports Luxury||5.7L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO||$39,990 – 43,988||2008 Lexus LX 2008 LX570 Sports Luxury Pricing and Specs|