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Lexus RX450h: Triple-engined hybrid SUV

Lexus' brand-new RX450h is a luxury SUV with aspirations of being good for the environment -- it's a proper hybrid, you see, with electric engines and a whole heap of cool tech

Today, Lexus launched the RX450h, a luxury SUV, which we're told is actually good for the environment. Being the diligent souls we are, we thought we'd hop on a plane, dump a few tonnes of CO2 over Northern Europe and attend its grand unveiling in Budapest (calm down, we'll plant a tree or something).

The concept of an Earth-friendly SUV sounds about as plausible as avoiding swine flu on the 10 O'Clock news, particularly as the RX450h uses not one, not two, but three separate engines. Lurking under the bonnet is a powerful V6 motor -- the sort of thing you'd expect from a car hellbent on bringing about environmental apocalypse. The RX450h also has a pair of electric motors, however -- one at the front and one at the rear -- powered by a 288V battery pack. That's right, folks: it's a hybrid.

It's no ordinary 'mild' hybrid, either. The RX450h is a full series/parallel hybrid, which means it can run in petrol-only mode, electric-only mode or a combination of both. What's more, the driving modes are driver-selectable, so it's up to you whether you maximise vehicle range, performance or economy. In its electric mode, the vehicle will drive entirely on battery power alone up to a speed of 25mph. With the primary engine chipping in, the RX450h can hit 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds and reach 124mph. Combined fuel economy is a respectable 44.8mpg, while carbon dioxide is emitted at a rate of 148g/km -- not bad for a premium SUV.

Premium is a pretty apt word for the RX450h. We've only spent a few minutes with it so far, but the technology inside is phenomenal. There's a head-up display on the windscreen that shows vehicle speed and directions for the sat-nav in your line of sight, an infotainment system with a 40GB hard drive for stashing maps and music data, an OLED info screen on the instrument panel, and a funky Remote Touch control knob that behaves like a mouse and provides force feedback. Honestly, we're in geek heaven here.

That's all we have time for right now (the open road beckons) but we'll bring you a full update on our experience with this £41,600 beast shortly, along with a full episode of Car Tech. Y'all come back now, y'hear?