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  1. There you have it folks, the praise doesn't really get any higher than that.. Also love the fact of the myriad of extreme cars he has driven over the years, the LFA is still his all time favourite car!
  2. This week, two Lexus NX 300h SUVs became available at Sydney City Lexus for test driving. I was at the dealership yesterday to try one out and give my thoughts. I won't provide a detailed technical overview, as there are plenty of hi-res photos and equipment specifications available through online media. Instead, I'll start off pointing out some features that may not have already been covered. Exterior First, some photos ... Lexus have continuously improved their lighting effects over the past couple of years, and the NX's illuminated door handles is one such improvement: Oddly, there is only one reverse lamp on the left side of the tailgate. The right tail light cluster features a foglamp in place of a reverse lamp: Now, how's this for attention to detail: The emergency door key is hidden behind the door handle. There's no need for a removable body-coloured cover that could get scratched or lost: Interior As an IS owner, I found the interior of the NX delightfully familiar, but incrementally better. The entire dashboard features leather-look trim and contrast stitching, and an electronic park brake replaces the foot-operated brake. A lot has been said about the Qi phone charging tray; this sits just below the centre console lid, and lifting it reveals some reasonable storage space. Not only is this main storage bin larger than in the IS, but a separate sunglass holder can also be found in the centre console (with a make-up mirror on the underside of the removable lid!). The positioning of the switchgear is much the same as the IS, although the relocation of the front seat heating and cooling buttons near the HVAC controls is a notable change. The hip point of the front seats might be lower than in, say, an RX, but that doesn't mean it's harder to get in or out of an NX; in fact, it is so, so much easier to get in and out of an NX than with a current model IS. The only trouble with the F Sport seats - almost identical to the IS seats - is that shorter people will tend to sit on the outer bolster and rotate their legs when entering or exiting. That will inevitably crease the leather strip on the bolster and, indeed, two large creases were found on each front seat within five days of the car being available to the public. Having brought a tape measure, I found the depth of the trunk to be about 5 cm shorter than in the IS sedan. Usable space is greather, though, with less protruding wheel wells and the valet kit stowed elsewhere. Infotainment System A lot has also been said about the new touch-sensitve Remote Touch controller; although I prefer joysticks and trackpoints to notebook computer touchpads, my wife and I did find the Lexus touchpad better than the IS joystick. The entire Lexus square touchpad acts as a button and moves downward when pressed, so there's a pleasant tactile feedback unlike a computer touchpad. The audio system was very quick to accept my test CD after the engine was started; I dare say that Lexus may have removed the navigation warning notice and other improved startup times of the unit, making the process before leaving the kerb so much more enjoyable. Like in the IS, the sound is quite good in the 10-speaker Pioneer system, with the 14-speaker Mark Levinson system offering somewhat better sound for CDs - but only if one listens very, very carefully. Of course, many people listen to MP3s or compressed streaming audio nowadays, and the HARMAN Clari-Fi technology found in the NX Mark Levinson system "automatically analyzes and improves the audio quality of all types of compressed, digitalized music sources." I shall have to test that claim the next time I drive an NX. On the Road As expected, both the electric and petrol engines were quiet. I could really appreciate the softer notes of an orchestral soundtrack without being interrupted by engine noise or having to resort to using the Automatic Sound Leveliser. At 90 km/h, there was no noticeable CVT drone commonly associated with hybrids. The brake and accelerator pedal feel were noticeably different to petrol cars, but didn't annoy me. On flat roads, with the driver's seat set as low as possible, driving the NX just didn't feel like driving an SUV. When cornering quickly, even outside of SPORT S+ mode, the higher centre of gravity was noticeable, but there was minimal understeer and the F Sport tyres were firmly planted. The panoramic camera and all-wheel drive made parking a breeze, even though the track width is wider than what an IS driver is used to. The Rear Cross Traffic Alert also took the worry out of reversing out of a parking space. Not everyone sees the point of having an SUV in urban driving, so I channeled a soccer mum's mind and quickly found some uses for this virtual "IS wagon". Going over speed bumps at almost double the recommended speed was reasonably comfortable, and driving through potholes and grassy mounds (the Sydney Air Traffic Control tower served as my test site) in an NX was streets better than in a sedan. How about flooring it? Sadly, even when putting the pedal down at 60 km/h in SPORT mode, there was a delay of about two seconds or more before the wagon felt it was propelling faster, and then only slowly to 80+ km/h. It's not something most people would plan to do with an SUV, anyway, but you've been warned: don't use the NX's acceleration performance as something to impresss your friends, especially as an example of the F Sport's "sportiness". But it was the only let-down in an otherwise impressive test drive. Verdict If you've always wanted a quiet, comfortable and fuel-efficient luxury passenger sedan, but would also like wagon capabilities or would rather not have to worry about low road clearance heights, then the NX is for you.
  3. Recently, I had the chance to check out the new 3rd generation IS range and to test drive the IS350 F sport at the Lexus of Chatswood launch event. IS350 F sport Exterior: My first impressions on the new IS is that it really stands out. Like most have been saying, it really looks better in real life. For those of you who don't like the fact that the headlights and DRL are separated, you need to look at it when the DRLs are on and as a unit rather than individually, It would look much better then. Interior: The interior is nice and modern, much improved over the 2IS. The new 15 speaker Mark Levinson sound system is great, it sounds more crisp and has more bass than the older system found in the 2IS. Coming from the touch screen system, I found it hard to use the remote touch controller for the sat nav, however, it is more responsive than the previous IS. The sat nav screen could be bigger as it is not as big as I expected it to be. The F sport seats are MUCH more supportive than the previous generation F sport seats, It now supports your shoulder and head more, rather than just 'holding you' in position. The rear leg room has increased significantly, however, rear head room has not improved. The LFA dash is awesome, not only does it display your speedo but also your media as well as the sat nav information. The drive: It is much more refined, quiet and comfortable. The 8 speed sports direct shift transmission is smooth and shifts really fast. Steering is direct but lacks a lot of feedback. The suspension does a good job of holding the road but you don't feel much. The car feels slower to accelerate to 100km as you don't get the neck snapping acceleration that was found in the second generation IS350, but it is still very quick. IS300h Review During the third generation IS launch at Lexus of Chatswood, there was too much happening that I couldn't test drive the IS300h or the IS250. So here I am back at the dealership 3 weeks later for a test drive. Initially, I wanted to test drive the IS300h F sport but the dealership was low on stock! Either all cars were brand new or sold and awaiting the lucky owners to pick them up. The only demo IS300h f sport that they had, sold earlier in the day and was gone! Surprisingly, the Nova white IS300h f sport that was on display at the launch sold before the car was even released and without the owner even taking a IS300h for a test drive. Since the exterior and interior are similar, I will just share my experience on the drive. Due to the fact that all the demo IS300h have been sold, I was able to take out a brand new IS300h luxury with EP2 for a drive. I was unfortunate enough to take the IS300h out during Sydney's peak hour on Thursday night, however, the drive was very relaxing and comfortable due to the refinement of the 3IS. There were lots of low end torque to get the car moving off from stationary and during in gear acceleration. The ride was so smooth and quiet, even the sales consultant couldn't tell if the electric motor, petrol engine or both of them were powering the car. The IS300h, however, lacks the higher end torque and starts to really struggle to reach 100km from a stand still and when going uphill. Though the car lacks the top end torque, it is a relatively fun car to drive. The car handles well to driver inputs (on sports mode) and grips to the ground superbly. The suspension not only does a great job of keeping the car composed during high speed cornering, but also providing a smooth ride on a day to day commute. If you're a person who drives long distances every day or travel very short distances during peak hours and don't mind power. This is the car for you. It is smooth, efficient, luxurious and most importantly, safe.
  4. A new Lexus RC F is currently travelling around Lexus showrooms across Australia - Brisbane last week, and Sydney showrooms this week. Earlier today, I was given the opportunity to check out a pre-production RC F at Sydney City Lexus. (The model shown was built in May. Final specifications for the Australian market may differ to the one shown.) While there are already a lot of photos of the new RC F on the Internet, I wanted to show Lexus enthusiasts some parts of the vehicle in closer detail. I would also like to point out the standard features on the Australian model, so forum members can consider this when reading reviews of test drives carried out overseas (particularly the ones at the Monticello Motor Club, USA). The model shown is representative of the final RC F Carbon Edition, with carbon fibre bonnet, roof and spoiler. The standard top features a moonroof. In Australia, both are available with three different wheel variants. Interior seats are available either with alcantara trim (as shown) or semi-aniline leather. Exterior The prominent spindle grille is rather pointy, too, shunning the flat-nosed design found in many of today's cars. Five sides of the spindle are bordered by chrome trim, with the lower lip featuring a satin finish. The spoiler is partially raised here. Different modes are available; you probably know that the spoiler can be automatically raised at speeds above 80 km/h, but it can also remain lowered in ECO mode until the coupe reaches a higher speed. Michelin Pilot SuperSport tyres are fitted as standard: 255/35ZR19 at the front, and 275/35ZR19 at the rear. Even though they're rather wide tyres, they already come with that look where it appears stretched over the rims. Note the slotted discs and the rather low stance (for a stock vehicle) at the rear. The boot space is reasonable. Australian spec RC Fs will come with a tyre repair kit, although there is space for a space saver tyre if you ordered one (perhaps from overseas). As for rear headroom and legroom ... Well, I wouldn't seat anyone of any stature behind a six-foot driver, unless the driver moved the seat forward so that his or legs are noticeably bent. But would anyone buy one of these to carry around more than one passenger? Here's a picture of the lights, if you haven't already seen them on the Internet. Note the pop-up headlight washers, unlike the current model IS and new NX.