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Long-term review

Lexus RX 450h - long-term review

£67,100 / £81,600 as tested / £524pcm
Published: 13 Mar 2024


  • SPEC

    Lexus RX 450h Takumi



  • BHP


  • 0-62


Cameron Norrie: "I’d like to think tennis is a bit more physical than F1"

Britain’s men’s number one tennis player Cameron Norrie has a Lexus RZ. It’s only his third car and his first electric one. Watching him wrestle with the charging point outside the LTA’s HQ, it’s clear that even a world class athlete’s hand-to-eye co-ordination is no match for a recalcitrant charger. At least we have that in common; his cross-court forehand is certainly a lot better than mine.

Born in South Africa to British parents, the Norrie family moved to New Zealand when he was three. His peripatetic teenage years saw him move to London, then the US, and now he bounces between Putney and Monaco. A modest stick-shift Hyundai was followed by a Ford Fusion, and now the RZ. He says his dad always told him cars were bad investments. But time in Monte Carlo is strengthening the Norrie car game, and when I steer him towards a Lexus LFA he’s impressed. (Current price circa £900k but they’ll go higher – it’s a bulletproof future classic.)

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“I like walking down to Casino Square and just listening to the conversations that are going on,” Norrie says. “A few of the tennis players have Lamborghinis. It’s a dangerous road, dangerous for my bank account. Every other car by the casino is something insane.”

Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton all live in the Principality. I like to imagine you all bumping into each other in the supermarket, I say (before explaining late Nineties cult TV show Stella Street.)

“Not exactly. Though I did bump into one of the Scandinavian drivers when he was walking his dog. I recognised him from Drive To Survive. It’s so good, that show. The tennis version wasn’t as good.”

Then Norrie lets slip that he’s part of a WhatsApp group chat with Monaco’s sporting stars. “We’re all going for a drink together in a couple of weeks. Let me have a look [scrolls through phone] It’s a small world. Some tennis players, obviously. Paula Radcliffe’s on here…”

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In terms of focus and mental agility, does Norrie agree that there are parallels between tennis and F1?

“In F1 if you make one little mistake someone catches or passes you. The margins are small in both sports, and in tennis you can’t really go a break down against a top player and not be punished. I’d like to think tennis is a bit more physical than F1. Tennis players work hard, harder than most other athletes given the length of schedule. I’ve been fortunate to be reasonably injury-free. That’s why Djokovic is number one. Federer and Nadal are at a similar level to him, but he’s been able to maintain it.”

Hmm. Is a five-set match more gruelling than, say, the Qatar GP? Discuss. Certainly, tennis is a lonely game of mental fortitude – and torture. And there’s no team mate here to be measured against.

“I’m trying to beat myself and everyone who’s ranked ahead of me. I’ve been ranked eighth, so I’ve seen what it takes to stay at that level,” Norrie says. “And I think I have what it takes to do that. It’s important to have a goal, though it’s one thing to say it and another to do it, to win a Slam or a Masters 1000. I’ve learnt a lot about scheduling, about being at your best for the biggest tournaments and peaking in them.”

Some of the biggest names in tennis have been… temperamental. I ask Norrie if he ever loses it.

“I’m pretty calm on the court now, for the most part. Anger can help if you use it in the right way. But it’s tough to be sustainable with that. When you’re in a difficult situation, try not to think too much about it, just play the game and hit the ball. When you’re playing at your best you almost don’t remember it, you play instinctively. That’s the goal for me, the mode I’m trying to get into.”

Enough tennis, back to the car, which also requires good hand-eye coordination. The RX’s touchscreen is deceptively simple in most use cases: audio and climate, primarily. But the assistance systems are a different matter. The prime offender is the speed limit warning, which chimes incessantly. Getting rid of that requires a deep dive... five separate pushes on the screen, in fact.

The RX’s rear parking sensors are hyperactive, too. Get a bit marginal on a reverse manoeuvre and the car slams the brakes on like you’re about to drive off a cliff. Worse still, a sensor on the wheel ‘reads’ your driving position – and instructs you to sit up straight. It’s more annoying than my fourth-year maths teacher.

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