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A DARKENED YOGA studio in Redfern is not the first place you’d expect to be introduced to a new luxury hybrid SUV. But if the connection between an ancient mind-body spiritual practice and whizbang automotive excellence seems tenuous, a stretch even, there are parallels to be drawn.

The calm immersive serenity of the delightfully named Humming Puppy studio, where I’m currently enjoying a soul-whispering sound bath, will find echoes later in the day when I get behind the wheel of the new Lexus LBX and experience similar levels of quiet solitude. This is despite the fact I’m navigating through busy city streets to a swanky lunch at the W Hotel, as my boss causes my phone to blow up with consecutive calls that would normally send me into a state of agitation, if not outright panic.

You could argue the residual effects of the morning’s yoga session are responsible for my indifference to my exploding phone, or it could be that driving the LBX is the kind of satisfyingly soothing experience that manages to silence minor irritations. I’d argue both are true.

Now, this is ostensibly a car review, so it’s perhaps time to drop the blissful reveries for brass tacks. The LBX is Lexus’ first-ever luxury compact SUV. It’s aimed at youthful urban people with an active lifestyle and designed to be both accessible and stylish, premium yet casual. It does all these things while marrying luxury craftsmanship with the traditional Japanese service ethic of Omotenashi, where every customer is treated like a guest and service is a matter of pride.

To wit, after arriving at the W, we listen to a fascinating panel discussion on urban living with Lexus Australia general manager Yolande Waldock, urban strategist and co-founder of the Right-Angle studio Barrie Barton and the hotel’s dessert chef Janice Woon. This engaging chat provides food for thought and thoughts of food, which is handy as we are then treated to a sumptuous lunch that reaches a crescendo with one of Woon’s sublime desserts.

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A little weighed down, it’s time for me to hit the road again. Sliding into the front seat, Takumi craftsmanship finds opulent levels of expression in the contrasting blend of leather and ultrasuede accents, complemented by playful stitching and embroidery – if you were a practical soul, you might be of the mind to uproot these seats, chuck them in your lounge room and watch them double as gasp-inducing conversation pieces and coma-inviting refuges . . . even as your guests naggingly ponder how you still manage to drive your car.

Next, I take in the dash, a glittering yet intuitive display of touchscreen magnificence that puts connectivity and comfort at your fingertips. There’s a 9.8 inch multimedia display, heated steering wheel, head-up display, Lexus Connected Services, as well as wireless Android Auto and wireless Apple CarPlay. A 13-speaker Mark Levinson system in the Sports Luxury model entrenches the cabin’s cocoon-like feel, inevitably taking me back to the sonic deliverance I achieved back at Humming Puppy earlier in the day.

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But what’s the LBX like to drive, for chrissakes? There is the common experience when getting behind the wheel of a hybrid vehicle of pressing the power button and wondering if the machine has actually started. More than once I press the button again only to turn the machine off. But while it might not exactly purr, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine, which features a new self-charging full hybrid electric powertrain, does pack a punch. The Hybrid System Control ensures a responsive foot-on-the-gas experience – truly, you feel like you’re eating bitumen with the merest drop of your foot, a pleasant sensation.

After picking up my family, we return to the W, where the car’s overriding commitment to service is given full rein when you have an opportunity to park the thing, something it can do for you. The Lexus Teammate Advanced Park uses the car’s on-screen display, voice instruction and a buzzer to park itself in perpendicular and parallel parking spots.

Giving up control of the wheel isn’t easy but given the vehicle has been making you feel calm, relaxed and at ease all day long, you let yourself go with it. I even close my eyes and for a moment I’m back in tranquil darkness at Humming Puppy, utterly at peace. Have I been driven to abstraction, I wonder, absently. Perhaps. Certainly, I have to conclude that aligning yoga and the LBX isn’t such a stretch.

For more information on the Lexus LBX visit

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