Toyota has been very successful at
introducing a new brand to the marketplace - that of Lexus. I
was one of those who thought it was just a bit of marketing
smoke and mirrors, and that the cars were really just tarted
up Toyota’s - but I was wrong. Toyota spawned a new brand
and has kept it as an exclusive marque. It now has a very
strong band of faithful followers, and our Down-under
correspondent John Weinthal is one of those. Here is John’s
take on the new Lexus LS 430.
“The Lexus LS430 is a large and supremely
luxurious sedan. It can be yours for around AUD 175,000, plus
the usual on roads and (shudder) insurance. (In Thailand it
will take 7.645 million baht out of your bank account - Dr.
Iain.) It is also the only car I can think of which has not a
single option - with this Lexus you get the works; even a 400
“This is in great contrast with other
cars costing upwards from AUD 180,000 like top drawer Jaguars,
BMWs and Mercedes where injudicious ticking of the options
boxes can boost the sticker cost by up to 25 per cent.
“The comprehensive package comprises a
large four door sedan with a 207 kW 4.3 litre quad cam V8. It
drives the rear wheels through a six-speed automatic which
offers effective manual over-ride when called for. The
LS430’s imposing looks are enhanced by low profile tyres on
five spoke 18 inch alloy rims.
is a fully loaded car; it has every electronic gadget apart
from TV and DVD it seems. There are automatic wipers and
headlamps of course, but still no rear window wiper. The
brilliant xenon headlamps swivel for better lighting through
corners. The satellite navigation is more user friendly than
“Radar cruise control can ensure you do
not get too close to the car in front by maintaining your
chosen distance as you approach a slower car. It will then
accelerate this 1800 kg limo back to your chosen speed when
the road clears or you change lanes. This is almost certainly
the way forward and a potential accident saver, but in this
application I found it often led to a rather jerky combination
of slowing and accelerating. The radar over-ride can be
disabled leaving the car in normal cruise control mode. This
was my choice most of the time and certainly when there was
reasonably heavy traffic.
- any Lexus - is all about supreme quiet, unrivalled build
quality and owner satisfaction ratings to make other opulent
carriage makers wince. The LS430 is the flagship and thus the
standard setter. But this is really a car in which the
reviewer should take a rear seat. The driver’s lot is most
agreeable but the passenger is master.
“Two can laze in the sumptuous rear pews.
Each rear seat has power operation, with its own memory
function. Passengers enjoy fingertip control over their air
con and seat temperature and ventilation preferences. But the
coup de grace is the rear seat massage system. This gently
soothes tired muscles and can be adjusted up and down the back
- pure sybaritic pleasure. Of course this pampered pair enjoy
their own sound system controls. There are retractable shades
for the side windows, plus an electronic one for the rear
window. These ensure peasant stares reveal nothing of the
occupants’ identity or their activities.
“Safety features big time in the Lexus
armory. Every electronic motion control device is present and
ever ready to correct virtually any pilot error. A wide angle
rear vision camera means the driver can see everything in his
path when reversing. The radar-activated cruise control is not
exclusive to Lexus at the top end of the market, but Lexus
does claim to be the first with air bags to protect the
driver’s and front passenger’s knees. More airbags provide
protection from chest to hip in side impacts in addition to
full length curtain air bags to soften a blow to the head.
“The hush and ride comfort over all but
the harshest bitumen chips has to be experienced. The quality
of the wood and leather interior trims and all fittings is of
the highest order, but the test Lexus was not quite perfect
with a couple of shut-lines which were not quite spot on and
one carpet piece not quite fitting under a ventilation duct.
“Lexus makes no claim to sportiness for
its premium model, but in all respects it is well above the
level of mere competence. For pure driver involvement one
would possibly still choose the Audi A8 or Jaguar XJR in the
full limo class, but they still fall a mite shy of the Lexus
in the areas where the Japanese contender is standard bearer.
“But let the laddie do the driving. As
master and mistress of our realm we will choose to luxuriate
unconcernedly in the opulence of the rear compartment. Just
wake us gently on arrival.”
Thank you John for your impressions of the latest Lexus.
Like others in that range, the Lexus is really for the rear
seat owner. After all, if you’re going to spend over 7
million baht for your car, you can afford 100,000 baht a year
for a chauffeur (I wouldn’t be so crass as to just call him