Our Garage

Alex gets treated to the full feel-good, gift-wrapped Lexus new-car ex­pe­ri­ence. At least up un­til the point where he’s ex­pected to pay for it

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - ALEX IN­WOOD

I FEEL slightly ashamed to ad­mit this, as though I should be writ­ing these words with my head bowed, eyes averted and twist­ing my foot in the dirt, but I’ve never bought a new car. I’ve helped oth­ers do it, and taken joy in ad­vis­ing them on spec and trim lev­els, but for myr­iad rea­sons (head­lined by a crip­pling dread of de­pre­ci­a­tion), I’ve al­ways grav­i­tated to­wards sec­ond-hand metal when it came to my own wheels. This means I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced that ‘new-car feel­ing’ – the heady com­bi­na­tion of ela­tion, sus­pense and fear that comes with mak­ing a sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment – so it was a thrill when, after agree­ing to loan Wheels this sear­ing yel­low LC 500 for three months, Lexus sug­gested I col­lect the car as a real cus­tomer.

Toy­ota’s lux­ury arm is renowned for its deal­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence, so tak­ing de­liv­ery would al­low me to see if that rep­u­ta­tion is de­served, as well as scratch a per­sonal itch.

My LC is cloaked in a shiny black cover when I ar­rive at Lexus Brighton, and even with its de­tails shrouded, the big rear-drive coupe oozes in­tent. Long, wide and clas­si­cally pro­por­tioned, it’s also im­pos­ingly vast in the metal (overall length is 4760mm, while width is 1920mm).

Peel­ing away the cover en­hances the drama. Yel­low wouldn’t be my first choice (I think sil­ver is more co­he­sive as it helps dis­guise some of the LC’S heavy-handed de­tail­ing, like the chrome fin­ish atop the tail-lights) but there’s no deny­ing its im­pact – I can’t think of a car this side of a Lam­borgh­ini that makes more of a vis­ual state­ment.

Bernard, who has a heavy French ac­cent, a pen­chant for Ital­ian mo­tor­cy­cles and an ob­vi­ous pas­sion for the LC, con­ducts the han­dover process. It be­gins with a walk around the ex­te­rior, where I take in the enor­mous 21-inch wheels (shod with Miche­lin rub­ber 245/40 front, and 275/35 rear) and dis­cover the hid­den boot re­lease but­ton (dis­guised in­side the right rear tail-light) be­fore we slip into the cabin.

If the ex­te­rior is all about im­pact, things are much more re­strained in­side my ex­am­ple. Coloured leather options are avail­able, but here it’s black-on-black from floor mat to roof lin­ing, and that’s ex­actly how I’d spec it. First im­pres­sions are bang on too: the driv­ing po­si­tion is low and nat­u­ral, the leather seats sup­ple and sup­port­ive (as well as heated and cooled) and the fit and fin­ish is stag­ger­ing. Ma­te­rial qual­ity is an­other high­light, as is the dig­i­tal dash that glows white when Sport+ mode is en­gaged, which is an ob­vi­ous nod to the LFA su­per­car.

The only neg­a­tive is the same fas­tid­i­ous at­ten­tion to de­tail has been ap­plied to the LC’S in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, with con­fus­ing re­sults. Lexus has per­sisted with its ma­ligned touch­pad con­troller rather than a touch-screen (at least the dorky mouse is gone!), but the real prob­lem lies with the in­fo­tain­ment soft­ware. It’s a maze of menus and sub-menus and pro­vides the only hic­cup of the han­dover process when Bernard gets lost down a rab­bit hole while ex­plain­ing the sat-nav. Fin­gers crossed things im­prove with prac­tice.

Hap­pily, driv­ing the LC is much more in­tu­itive. As the first Lexus to utilise the com­pany’s all-new Global Ar­chi­tec­ture – Lux­ury (GA-L) plat­form, it feels im­pres­sively rigid and re­fined at city speeds with a sur­pris­ingly sup­ple and con­trolled ride, but it’s the old-fash­ioned 5.0-litre quad-cam V8 that dom­i­nates the ex­pe­ri­ence. Crisp, mus­cu­lar and with an in­sa­tiable ap­petite for revs, it sounds bril­liant and has a no­tice­able step change in vol­ume and tim­bre as the tacho sweeps past 4000rpm. Yet the noise and ef­fort­less per­for­mance are only part of what makes driv­ing the LC such an ex­pe­ri­ence. The re­main­der comes from the looks and re­ac­tions its con­cept-car de­sign gen­er­ates from other road users and pedes­tri­ans. It makes you feel spe­cial, and that’s ex­actly what a new car should do. It’s go­ing to be a good three months.

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