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Motoring: First impression is best for Lexus GS430

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | September 25th, 2006

With all the driving I had to do on the weekend, traveling from a wedding, a movie premiere and the Ferrari Rally, I wanted to have a luxury car to not only melt away the miles (sorry... kilometers), but also allow me to arrive in style.

Thanks to the always-helpful press department at Toyota/Lexus, I now had just the right car for the job, the new Lexus GS430.

This second-generation GS went on sale last year and on the basis of looks, it's a winner. So, task one is accomplished.

Task two is the interior. With nothing to worry about on this front, this car has one of the most luxurious interiors you could ever wish for.

You have power operated everything (with some of those powered items hidden in a James Bond style secret drop panel), heated and air-con cooled seats and a sound system to please even the most jaded audiophile.

The only thing I found disappointing about the interior was, that even at the as tested price of $77,000, this car didn't have a navigation system. Yes, navi is available as an option, but why? Why couldn't it be standard on this car?

Despite the 300 hp, despite the six-speed automatic gearbox with manual shift modes, despite the power switch for the engine and sports switch for the suspension, this car, while fast, is not fast enough to blow your mind. It also never temps you to drive fast either, which is good, if you value holding onto your drivers license.

The handling also won't be the topic of your next pub conversation among friends either. Yes it does have a sports setting for the suspension, but to be honest, I couldn't tell the difference between the comfort and sport setting.

The brakes, while very good at stopping you, don't have a progressive feel to them. They either feel like they are on or off, nothing in between. That sort of brake behaviour is understandable if you have ceramic discs, but this doesn't.

The radar guided parking sensors are a great asset because this car is hard to maneuver around tight spaces, due to the fact that you can't see the corners properly. But thanks to an on-screen display showing the vehicle and exactly which side you're getting close to hitting, parking it is easy. So that is another plus point for the car.

However, I must give it a minus mark for the cruise control for two reasons. First, I expected this car to have a laser guided cruise control system, which slows the car down automatically as you creep-up on slower vehicles in your lane. Lexus does offer this item as an option, but it should be standard at this price level if you ask me.

The other minus this cruise control feature gets is for the switch. Why on Earth does Toyota/Lexus fit the same silly old cruise control stalk on every car, from a Corolla to the top end Lexus? Toyota, I think it's time to integrate this feature neatly into the steering wheel.

So, the Lexus is fuel-efficient, well built, looks good and is more comfortable than my bed. But, it doesn't stir my soul, so thus, in my book, it doesn't beat the Audi A6 4.2, which is currently my favourite sedan in this price range.

However, I did arrive in style at all the events I went to, thanks to the Lexus. First impressions are very important and this car does make a great first impression. So if that is a priority for you, then you certainly won't go wrong with the GS430.
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