A company spokesman said that, when the model goes on sale in the summer, dealers hope its fuel efficiency and low CO2 emissions will convince buyers to visit showrooms.
But there still remain doubts.
‘Are buyers completely turned off the idea of an SUV? Or, are there people out there who’ve had one in the past, like the high seating position and security, and will be drawn to the new RX because of its class-lowest CO2 position?’
The brand admits it’s ‘wait and see’ time…
With a CO2 figure of 148g/km, and fuel economy of nearly 45mpg, the new RX 450h surpasses nearly every other SUV on the market – even much smaller diesel engined models.
Yet its 3.5-litre V6, boosted by two electric motors, also boasts a total system power of 295bhp.
It’s capable of 124mph, and can hit 60mph in 7.8 seconds.
The new RX range is hybrid-only, and the UK division is hoping the all-new model will become as successful as the last one.
‘We aim for sales close to diesel IS levels – but overall volumes will still be low.’ That’s around 1200-1500 cars, then, from a total annual UK Lexus parc of 6000 cars.
‘There’s good moral in the dealer network,’ said the spokesman. ‘With the new RX, we have the product to get people into showrooms.
‘The fact that we have never pushed volumes means our retailers are better placed to manage the downturn.
‘We look at dealers Centre by Centre, and offer support where necessary. But overall, there is no great panic.’
Time will tell whether the all-new RX 450h is the model to help see retailers through the downturn.
By RICHARD AUCOCK