Lexus GS300 F Sport 2014 Review

April 28th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

lexus-gs300-f-sport-2014-frontLexus is consistently turning out vehicles that are setting the bar for comfortable cruising. The majority of the range doesn’t set the world on fire in terms of outright sprinting and high-speed manoeuvring capability, but when it comes to pleasing your posterior on a long trip, there’s not much that will match it. Continue reading “Lexus GS300 F Sport 2014 Review” »

Lexus IS300h F Sport and Lexus IS350 2013 Review

October 5th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Look closely at the front grille and air splitter and you see the types of curves and air inlets that you expect on an F1 car. And it doesn’t stop there because there are vanes and little details all over the place like on the side of the rear lights. This is the IS300h F Sport, a 2.5-litre hybrid IS-series Lexus with all the fruit. That’s probably what the F stands for: Fruit.

Lexus-IS350-2013-fqBut for similar money you could have the base model IS350 (shown on the left – the remainder of the images in the article are the IS300h). The purpose of this article is to tell you which one to go for: the lesser-powered IS300h plus the trimmings or the brawny but more basic IS350 which will smoke the tyres and give you grins with its 3.5-litre V6. The IS300h F Sport weighs in at $91,995, whereas the IS350 is $94,995 – barely a difference at this kind of money.

Lexus-IS300h-f-sport-2013-rear-quarterA beautiful line ascends gracefully from the side skirt through an imaginary chord across the rear wheel, along a panel intersection and into the rear light cluster. It’s one of the best executions of this design trick that I’ve seen and it draws your eye up around the rear of the car which is a perfectly executed tail that looks both executive and sporty.

Drop yourself into the bucket seat and it wraps itself around you. The seats are both supportive and comfortable, and a great balance between gripping you enough and not restricting your movement.

Lexus-IS300h-f-sport-2013-rangeIn the F Sport a central circular dial dominates the centre of the instrument cluster and in normal or eco mode it contains a gauge that measures how economically you’re driving and how much power is either being directed to the battery or drawn from it. Either side of the dial are information displays for the trip computer. Switch the Lexus into Sport or Sport+ mode and this centre ring slides to the right giving a larger screen area to the left. This will now show all manner of information ranging from what is playing via Bluetooth from your phone through to servicing information in an interface that is well-designed.

Look inside the IS350 and you get a more standard-looking set of dials without the fancy graphics that accompany the change in driving mode – they’re a bit too Camry-ish in my opinion. The IS350 only gets three modes (eco, normal and sport) whereas the IS300h F Sport adds a Sport+. Continue reading “Lexus IS300h F Sport and Lexus IS350 2013 Review” »

Lexus LS600hL 2013 – Review

July 9th, 2013 by Darren Cottingham

Lexus has set out to build a world-class luxury saloon car, and it has succeeded. Should you add one to your already luxurious life?

lexus-ls600hl-2013-rqBack in 1989, I was still too young to drive, but I remember when the first Lexus was launched. The culmination of six years of work by the Toyota subsidiary resulted in a car that laid waste to the competition in terms of build quality and performance. Its only problem at the time was brand cachet.

lexus-ls600hl-2013-front-interiorThat’s long gone, though, and Lexus is truly recognised as a luxury brand. As the flagship model in Lexus’s line-up, the LS600hL acquits itself with aplomb because the interior is spectacularly comfortable. The driving experience is Continue reading “Lexus LS600hL 2013 – Review” »

Lexus GS250 2012 Review

October 2nd, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

It’s ironic that the Lexus GS250 could be the best car for boosting fertility, but it’s mostly going to be purchased by those who have already procreated.

It’s a true story that a friend of a friend and his wife were trying to conceive and having some trouble. The doctor told him that he needed to keep his nether region as cool as possible to assist in the production of the little wrigglers required to seal the deal, and so it was that he traveled around in his car with the seat fans on full all the time.

Yes, the Lexus GS250 will blow cooling, life-giving air through the seat. One can only speculate that, given the Lexus comes from Japan where the population is in perilous decline (it will decrease from its current 126 million to less than 50 million within a hundred years unless young women stop buying and dressing up those annoying little dogs and start having babies), perhaps there’s some kind of government incentive. After all, the Toyota Land Cruiser we reviewed a couple of months ago also came with the same system.

Lexus has made the GS250 an exceptionally comfortable car to drive in and has given it a stereo of epic quality. Several times I found myself sitting in it after I’d turned the car off, just listening to the music. While the operation of the stereo is a little fiddly with the joystick on the centre console, the audible results are stellar. They are powerful and clear.

Twelve speakers wash you with sound via a 299W amp. Music input devices include all kinds of CD and media files, iPod and other MP3 players, radio data service, satellite radio (so you can listen to the BBC World Service) and just plain old terrestrial AM/FM. The system has voice recognition and you can connect your Bluetooth-enabled phone, as well as streaming music via Bluetooth.

The second audible aspect of the Lexus which I loved was the engine tone. If you are cruising along, you barely hear the engine at all – it’s exceptionally quiet – but bury the accelerator and the Sound Generator system (basically a couple of mufflers and intake manifold modification) takes you from a quite purposeful bassy tone at low revs through to a tone that sounds like the best of angry V6 engines with a hint of V8 Supercar thrown in.

The response of the engine is controlled by one of three modes: eco, normal and sport. Eco mode reduces the power, throttle response and air conditioning. In sport mode, the throttle response is enhanced and more power is available from the 2.5-litre V6 – up to 154kW and 253Nm. This gives a 0-100kph sprint of 8.8 seconds which is adequate for most overtaking needs.

The gearbox is a six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddles. I expected it to be seven-speed, but the six-speed doesn’t seem to have any compromises. A snow mode is available.

Combined fuel consumption is quoted at 9.3l/100km. We managed 9.1 on a journey from Coromandel town to Auckland that included all the twisty awesomeness of the Thames Coast Road, plus an annoying late-night motorway closure at Papakura that delayed us and forced us through the back streets of Takanini after crawling along for 3km.

Being the baby of the range there are a couple of concessions. The cruise control is a budget one out of a Toyota. You can’t set a specific speed and it appears to wander up to 5kph from the set speed.

The satellite navigation, which displays on the 8-inch LCD, is easy enough to use once you’ve mastered the joystick and has a useful feature where you can retrace your journey. The maps were out-of-date, though. It didn’t know about the new Kopu bridge coming into Thames, so make sure you request an update if you’re purchasing one.

Given the GS250’s friendliness for creating children, they’ll be fine in the back until they are teens, at which time the lack of legroom will create problems. For short journeys there is enough, but you would not want to transport a sulky 15-year-old for any more than an hour or so. This does, however, allow for a slightly large boot than you might expect.

With all the noise, you also need poise. The Lexus stays flat through the corners, washing out into predictable understeer if you push it too hard. A cadre of electronics prevents you from kicking the back end out or getting into any kind of skid. There’s also a blind spot monitoring system to warn you if a vehicle is overtaking you on the left or right. If all these electronics can’t save you, nine airbags are the next line of defence.

While Lexus always does well in consumer surveys for satisfaction and reliability it’s comforting to know that the GS250 comes with a four-year unlimited kilometer warranty and a six-year corrosion warranty, fully transferable to new owners.

I really enjoyed the GS250. OK, it has a couple of minor issues, but the overall driving experience with its exhaust note, stereo quality and level of comfort are more than enough to negate them. If only I had an interest in having children!

Price: $102,900

Pros

  • Quiet
  • Beautiful engine tone on acceleration
  • High comfort level
  • Excellent stereo

Cons

  • Not much rear passenger leg room
  • Joystick operation of media centre and nav takes up a lot of space and isn’t that nice to use.
  • Budget cruise control


Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

Lexus RX450h F Sport 2012 Review

September 3rd, 2012 by Darren Cottingham

If there are any vehicles that are poised to reap the best market acceptance from hybrid technology, it should be SUVs. People like SUVs because of their practicality, but they don’t like stupendous fuel bills and that’s one of the reasons why sales of traditional SUVs have struggled recently and will continue to do so as the price of fuel increases.

If you are considering a Lexus LX450h, though, you’re probably unconcerned at the extra one or two thousand dollars a year in fuel bills you’ll save over purchasing a non-hybrid SUV. Chances are your other car is a Euro model with a large engine and the Lexus SUV will be for more practical duties like going snowboarding (it has a snow mode) or taking the kids to school. Therefore the hybrid badge on a Lexus SUV is because Continue reading “Lexus RX450h F Sport 2012 Review” »

Lexus NZ puts ten IS F ‘Red Edition’ models on sale

November 7th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Lexus New Zealand has launched an exclusive IS F ‘Red Edition’ of its performance V8 model, which will go on sale from November.

Just 10 of the ‘Red Edition’ model, each with a limited edition personalised plate, will be sold in NZ. They feature a unique red leather interior, distinctive 19 inch alloy wheels and an individually numbered ‘Red Edition’ plaque inside the vehicle.

Lexus Manager Debbie Pattullo says: “The IS F is our flagship performance model, and with the introduction of the ‘Red Edition’ we’re giving our customers an even more aggressive vehicle for the true sports car enthusiast. With only 10 vehicles available, this special edition upgrades specification which will turn heads as well as being a dream to drive.”

Red leather accents feature on the front and rear seats, steering wheel and gear shift lever.

The wheel and tyre package features new 14 spoke BBS alloy wheels and larger tyre/rim size, up from 8 to 8.5 inch for improved grip.

The sequentially numbered ‘Red Edition’ dashboard plaque and licence plate starting with ISF001 highlights the exclusivity of this model. Continue reading “Lexus NZ puts ten IS F ‘Red Edition’ models on sale” »

Lexus produces LFA supercar ‘making-of’ video

October 31st, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

It’s not everyday that a mainstream automaker decides to try its hand at building a world-class supercar. But when one has the motoring world has been given some of its most interesting machines like the Honda NSX, the Ford GT, the Dodge Viper, and more recently the Lexus LFA.

Any supercar takes years of development with fine-tuning and extensive testing. Toyota learned its lessons with the Lexus LFA and spent year’s and millions preparing the supercar for its debut. Now, to show the world just how tough making a supercar really is, the Japanese automaker has released a ‘making-of’ video. Continue reading “Lexus produces LFA supercar ‘making-of’ video” »

Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition breaks production car record at the ‘Ring

September 6th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Internet is buzzing with unconfirmed reports that the Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition has smashed the existing production car record at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Apparently Gazoo Racing driver and Lexus test driver Akira Iidra has put the track-focused LFA through the Green Hell in a new time of 7:14. If this reports are true, the LFA is one of the fastest production vehicles to ever lap the 20.8 km long course.

The previous record holder for a production car lapping the ‘Ring is the Porsche 911 GT2 RS which took 7:18 for the same distance. At just 7 minutes and 14 seconds the LFA Nürburgring Edition would become one of the top five quickest vehicles to ever run the track.

Using the word Nürburgring in the special edition LFA wasn’t just to sell more units, this is a harcore supercar. The Nürburgring Edition has extra kit like a full carbon fibre body kit, a retuned suspension, an upgraded six-speed sequential transmission. Its 4.8-litre V10 engine pumps out 419 kW. The package costs an additional $70,000 USD but drops the 0-100 km/h sprint time to 3.7 seconds and extends the top speed to 325 km/h. Continue reading “Lexus LFA Nürburgring Edition breaks production car record at the ‘Ring” »

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