The Lexus RX450h is undoubtedly impressively refined at all speeds, not just when it’s driving on electric power alone. Its slippery shape and petrol engine makes it especially quiet on the motorway.

It’s more dynamic than its predecessor with a reasonable turn of speed and much improved dynamics. To our eyes, it’s marginally more stylish, too.

Quality and kit are strong points, although list prices are pretty steep – you have to delve into spec-for-spec comparisons to make a real judgment on value. Lexus dealers will also bend over backwards to ensure your satisfaction – something that can’t necessarily be said of rival retailers.

Crucially, the Lexus is capable of achieving class-leading fuel economy and emissions. While the reality is somewhat less than the 44.8mpg claimed by Lexus, the RX450h should prove as economical as a diesel SUV averaging closer to 30mpg in everyday use. However, every owner will benefit financially from the low CO2 rating, whether that’s as a company car user where the benefits are huge, or as a private buyer making a saving on the annual tax disc.

But when you look beyond the numbers to the RX450h’s credentials as a usable and satisfying SUV, its case looks weaker. For its footprint, the interior offers comparatively little flexibility or boot space. And although it has a reasonable turn of speed, it offers little for those who enjoy driving, while the low-speed ride is disappointing.

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No doubt a hybrid SUV has its advantages, but conventional diesels still do it better.