There must have been some collective cataclysmic insanity that occurred sometime in the early naughties, whereby all carmakers decided to discard the fundamental attributes that collectively constitute a ‘motor car’ and began to produce appliances. Enviably capable, functional and appealing, but just not, well, cars anymore.
Such a shame IMHO.
Now let me disclose that (as an engineer) I had always had a penchant for technology and its application in all walks of life, but not to the exclusion of taste and aesthetic. I have owned many vehicles over the last 40-odd years of driving, which were inevitably the latest models forming part of a remuneration package designed by my employers to attract and retain staff with the attributes they desired.
Eventually I tired of having such choice every couple of years, and decided to opt out of this debacle and select a motor car. There was one stand-out winner that, for me, represented the pinnacle of the motor car – a Lexus LS430! Many thought I had lost my marbles or fallen on hard times, until I took them out for a spin!
Oh the joy, the rapture, the comfort, the quiet gentle effortless progress – just like riding in a motor car! Like how it used to be many years ago, when motor cars were luxury vehicles – a Rolls-Royce compared to an omnibus.
But I digress... After such a background, why did I do this? Shell out my own hard-earned cash for a 15-year-old slab-sided dated jalopy? The answer is, it is quite simply the best vehicle ever made.
Don’t take my word for it. Search out a sub-200,000km model and go for a spin. Surrounded by soft leather, walnut and Wilton carpet, start the engine – you’ll have to confirm it is running by inspecting the tachometer, by the way – you only do the ‘retry’ thing once, but don’t worry the engine is so quiet, you’re excused. Unless you’re forewarned, which you have been now.
Engage forward drive, a gentle prod on the go-pedal and you’re away with that insistent but polite pressure of 400-odd Nm from way down low in the rpm range. Maintain or increase the go-pedal pressure and witness the appliances disappear in the goodbye mirror. Decide when sufficient forward velocity has been attained to maintain a suitably appropriate distance from other road users, and proceed in a relaxed manner towards your destination – noting how all the appliances move over and observe your regal progress in the accustomed manner.
Streaming Bluetooth provides entertainment of your music selections or smartphone apps, while the 1000W audio system ensures full and complete renditions over the entire music spectrum.
Upon arrival at your destination, note how there always seems to be an appropriate parking space. Indeed, there will be competition amongst hotel staff as to whom gets to valet park ‘that limo’ if that is your destination. Disembarking, your colleagues note the soft-close doors and ambient lighting provide for a tasteful and appropriately elegant egress, as they emerge rested and delighted by their journey.
So much more delightful to travel in a motor car than an appliance.
Gear changes are largely unnoticed and are therefore not of concern. Suffice it to say that the combination of engine and transmission is appropriate to the sublime elegance of this mode of travel.
The car scored prime position in reliability assessments for, I believe, five years in a row in the US and was voted the best vehicle for sale in North America in its heyday. At $15,000 these cars are a steal. A full Lexus service costs around $450 including collection, wash and return, and they sip 12–13L per 100km (urban).
Do try a 460, though. They weigh a couple of hundred kilos more and do not have the same road presence (IMHO), but they may suit if you prefer a more ubiquitous appearance.
My only wish is that Lexus still made them, but then again, at the $178K they cost in 2002, I fear I would not be buying new.