26 September 2023

Lexus makes its first diesel… sort of

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By Karl Peskett.

Despite saying that it never would, Lexus has launched its first ever diesel model. No surprises, though, it’s a four-wheel-drive.

Based on the Toyota LandCruiser, the LX 450d gets the same twin-turbo 4.5-litre V8 as in the Toyota, which means 200kW and 650Nm, and fuel consumption of 9.5L/100km. It also passes Euro 5 emissions regulations.

The maximum torque figure – which is what everyone has been looking forward to – of 650Nm comes in at just 1600rpm, giving the LX450d excellent tractability and a 3.5-tonne towing capacity.

Lexus also says it has a potential range of near-on 1000km from one visit to the petrol station. Or should that be diesel station?

Interestingly, the LX450d doesn’t get the same eight-seat configuration as its petrol counterpart. Instead, the new SUV will only be a five seater – for now. Of course, without the third row, there’s a cavernous luggage space, but the reason, we’re told, is to keep the weight comparable to the petrol V8. With the extra weight of the diesel engine hanging over the front, ditching the third row reduces its overall mass.

Also, unlike the petrol V8, the diesel V8 gets a six-speed auto rather than an eight-speed shifter.

The large SUV also gets a five-mode drive select setting, adaptive suspension which can raise or lower, and also an easy access setup to help passengers get in and out.

Lexus Safety System is included which gives you pre-collision warning and autonomous braking, radar-based cruise control, lane departure warning and auto high beam. Also standard is head-up display, blind-spot monitoring and a rear cross traffic alert system.

So, it gets a heap more kit than the LandCruiser, but it also costs a heap more, too. At $134,500, it’s not cheap. But it’s also going to be a lot kinder to the wallet come refill time.

Maserati SUV gets Ferrari heart

The New York motor show usually brings some quick metal to the world, but it seems the Italian SUV race it hotting up even more. This year’s show was home to the unveiling of Maserati’s quickest SUV, the Levante Trofeo.

With Ferrari building its own SUV, and the Lamborghini Urus being launched soon, the Levante comes at an interesting time. And thanks to Ferrari power, the Trofeo has some serious credentials.

With a 3.8-litre twin-turbo petrol V8 under the bonnet, the new SUV promises a 0-100kmh time of just 3.9 seconds and a top speed of over 300kmh. Yes, folks – that’s definitely moving. This is the first Levante to get a V8 engine, but it’s not just a straight lift from the Ferrari Portofino. Rather, because it has to accomodate AWD, it gets a new crankcase design with a different crankshaft assembly, a new oil pump and auxiliary belt plus a different wiring layout.

Making a nice round 440kW and 730 Nm of torque from 2,250 – 5,000 rpm, the engine will certainly sound the part, but there’s plenty of low-down grunt – perfect for an SUV. The power then runs to Maserati’s Q4 all-wheel-drive system which has been calibrated to work with a new stability control program which takes advantage of the extra power.

The suspension has been altered to suit a more sporting character, with revisions to the springs and the Skyhook adaptive dampers, plus there are now five drive modes, with Maserati adding “Corsa” mode, which includes a launch control function. Then to slow it down, Maserati says the brakes give a 34.5-metre stopping distance from 100km/h. That should be a fun experience for your passengers.

There a matte painted launch edition for the first run of Levante Trofeos, but as you’ve probably guessed, they’re all spoken for. Best to get the next run, then.

Emissions standards going backwards

The Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. appears to be moving in the wrong direction, with standards set by the Obama administration to be revised.

While the state of California can basically make its own rules, and wants to keep the strict emissions regulations in force, EPA Administrator Scott Pruit is said to be signing a declaration that the vehicle efficiency rules for the period from 2022 to 2025 are “not appropriate” and should be revised.

Reuters reported last week that the EPA will be holding a press conference this week at a Chevrolet dealership in Washington to make the announcement. Despite this, the EPA doesn’t yet have an alternative policy, and is said to be still working on its own suggested emissions targets, which could be announced in May or June.

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