Big Lexus leaves a last­ing im­pres­sion

South Western Times - - Wheels - Julie Sav­ille

Ilove be­ing mar­ried to mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ist Ewan Kennedy for many rea­sons, not just the fact I get to drive lots of dif­fer­ent cars.

My pas­sion for cars was in­stilled in me by my big brother Brett and his best mate Barry. Be­tween them they’ve owned a Fiat, MG, Saab, E Type Jaguar, Maserati and prob­a­bly some I have for­got­ten.

Un­til they both got mar­ried and had other obli­ga­tions. It hasn't re­ally made them bor­ing, though – now that the short-of­cash pe­riod has passed Brett has an Audi S4 Avant and Barry a Porsche 911.

I once read an ar­ti­cle in our lo­cal news­pa­per about a 90-some­thing wo­man who drove her Porsche through the front doors of her apart­ment build­ing and into the lift.

Ev­ery­one else was shak­ing their heads and tut-tut­ting. And I was sit­ting there fer­vently pray­ing that would be me in my 90s. Driv­ing a Porsche that is, not head-butting a lift.

I am cur­rently driv­ing a Fiat 500 by Gucci con­vert­ible which is just per­fect for around town on the Gold Coast. It is a gor­geous car and de­fies the “Fix It Again Tony” acro­nym joke as this is the sec­ond Fiat Cin­que­cento I have owned that I’ve had no prob­lems at all.

The only thing is that Aldo the Fiat is not com­fort­able for long road trips, es­pe­cially with pas­sen­gers. Last week I had to drive two col­leagues and my­self to the Sun­shine Coast Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal for work rea­sons and then back the next day.

I needed a big­ger ve­hi­cle and hoped Ewan would have some­thing fancy for im­press­ing my col­leagues. And he pro­duced a car the size of a limou­sine – a slightly stretched one at that. I drove a beau­ti­ful Lexus LS500h.

It’s a great look­ing car with a se­ri­ously sculpted front that’s dom­i­nated by a huge grille which is flanked by head­lights that have ‘L’ for Lexus shapes. The rear is al­most as strik­ing, with nu­mer­ous in­ter­lock­ing curves and a built-in spoiler.

This up­mar­ket Ja­panese ma­chine is very long, very lux­u­ri­ous and the back seat is ac­tu­ally two very sump­tu­ous arm­chairs, each with their own TV screens.

Both col­leagues wanted to sit in the back but I told them that one would be needed up front to keep me awake. Lucky I in­sisted on that be­cause the one in the back was sound asleep within five min­utes of leav­ing, so com­fort­able was his back seat!

The in­te­rior is lux­u­ri­ous and wel­com­ing but for some rea­son they have used that re­ally old fash­ioned flat look­ing deep red leather on the dash. But this just a per­sonal dis­like and for all I know it is back in at the height of fash­ion. In any case eight other colours are on of­fer.

The car was easy to drive and the fact it was a hy­brid was barely no­tice­able – ex­cept that the fuel con­sump­tion was amaz­ingly low.

Five hours of driv­ing on just over a quar­ter of a tank. Av­er­age fuel use was just 6.8 litres per 100km. My Fiat 500 uses more than that driv­ing around town!

The radar cruise con­trol was great and from the Gate­way Bridge north I did not touch a pedal un­til turn­ing off the free­way. Very nice.

I did have some con­cerns. I’m 168cm tall and like to sit high so I can see the bon­net.

But the driver’s seat would not go high enough for me. I did get used to the sit­ting po­si­tion quite quickly but would have pre­ferred to sit higher.

The only other neg­a­tive was that I felt that it needed two end-on-end carparks. It prob­a­bly would have fit­ted in one, just.

In-cabin tech­nol­ogy in the LS500h in­cludes a 12.3inch multi-me­dia screen and a stun­ning Mark Levin­son 23-speaker au­dio that while not quite con­cert hall is a real de­light to sit in­side, yes in­side, your re­ally are sur­rounded by qual­ity sound.

Sports Lux­ury ad­di­tional fea­tures in the LS500h I drove in­clude four-zone cli­mate con­trol with rear cooler, 22-way power rear seats with pas­sen­ger-side ot­toman and seven mas­sage pro­grams, and rearseat en­ter­tain­ment.

Pow­er­trains

Two pow­er­trains are of­fered, a 310 kW twin-turbo V6 in the LS 500, and the hy­brid LS 500h that uses a nat­u­rally-as­pi­rated V6 petrol and elec­tric power for a max­i­mum 264kW. Our test car was the hy­brid, as iden­ti­fied by the rather dis­creet ‘h’ in its ti­tle.

Safety

The Lexus Safety Sys­tem+ in­cludes a pre-col­li­sion sys­tem, all-speed radar ac­tive cruise con­trol, lane keep as­sist and adap­tive high-beam sys­tem to con­trol the LED head­lamps. Blind-spot mon­i­tors, rear cross-traf­fic alert, pop-up bon­net for pedes­trian pro­jec­tion, and tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem.

Sum­ming up

If you need a car for ul­tra-smooth, very-com­fort­able, long-dis­tance trav­el­ling, the big Lexus LS500h is just great, and amaz­ingly eco­nom­i­cal into the bar­gain.

The rear of the Lexus LS500h is strik­ing with nu­mer­ous in­ter­lock­ing curves and a built-in spoiler.

Long, low and su­per sleek. There’s noth­ing shy about the shape of this lat­est LS500 from Lexus.

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