Lexus: 2015 NX 200T review

June 9th, 2015 by Darren Cottingham

I returned from Cuba recently where I had the opportunity to sample the automotive best that the communist block had to offer in the 1970s and ‘80s, bastardised versions of 1950s Americana, new Chinese taxis from Geely and Chery, and even a 1936 Citroen with a Lada motor. Once you’ve weathered those, any car would seem luxury, but a Lexus is extra luxurious and something that you wouldn’t be able to find easily (if at all) in one of the last remaining communist bastions. Continue reading “Lexus: 2015 NX 200T review” »

Lexus: 2015 NX300h F Sport Hybrid review

March 10th, 2015 by Darren Cottingham

There’s a small gaggle of compact luxury SUVs vying for the attention of the moderately well-heeled, and the Lexus NX300h is waving a green flag. The hybrid is boldly styled with the angular front design featuring a strong grille and deep recesses. Continue reading “Lexus: 2015 NX300h F Sport Hybrid review” »

Lexus: 2015 RC350 F Sport review

February 3rd, 2015 by Darren Cottingham

The RC350 is a car you could put anywhere and it would still photograph beautifully. It was by chance that I had booked a trip to Ohakune in order to do the Tongariro Crossing on the same weekend that I had the RC350. I honestly could have spent a whole day finding vistas that included snow-capped Mount Ruapehu, but as it was, Ohakune Mountain Rd and its sinuous rise to the ski fields of Ruapehu set the scene. The brilliant blue sky did the rest, but the Lexus still stole the show. Continue reading “Lexus: 2015 RC350 F Sport review” »

Lexus: 2014 CT200h Limited vs F Sport review

August 12th, 2014 by Darren Cottingham

The road from Whatipu to Titirangi is narrow, bumpy and changes direction like a gazelle trying to outrun a cheetah. We were in the CT200h F Sport and my partner said to me that she was feeling sleepy, and the problem was with my ‘smooth driving’, the comfortable seats and the lack of noise from the Lexus. This Lexus makes your driving seem better than it is: the thing it excels at is turning the road into a muffled silk ribbon like I am the world’s best chauffeur. Continue reading “Lexus: 2014 CT200h Limited vs F Sport review” »

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


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


  • 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

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