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Motoring: A lot of money for a lot of Lexus

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | February 19th, 2007

In recent years I have tested quite a few Lexus vehicles, and while they were all very well built and had all imaginable options, none I can remember stirred my soul.

Even the GS430 which I hoped would blow me away did nothing of the sort. So while I respected the cars and know why people would buy one, they were not to my taste.

So when I approached the new LS460L, the current flagship in Lexus' lineup until the LS600H comes to the showrooms, I wondered if it would be a case of pleasure or displeasure.

On the technical ground, nothing, I mean nothing is as impressive as this Lexus. This has more gizmos than my home. It probably has more gizmos than your home.

It is hard to know where to start with this car because there is so much to tell. I mean, on the outside it has xenon headlights that turn with the steering, electric fold-away mirrors, neatly integrated exhaust and plenty of parking sensors which allow this car to do what no car has ever been able to do before, that is park itself.

Yes, you read that right, this car actually parks it self. The system uses a reversing camera and has ‘clever' sensors mixed with a lot of gizmology that I can't explain, parallel parks itself with amazing precision. All you have to do is select the parking spot and press ok. You control the vehicle speed with the brake pedal while the car works the steering on its own. It is just phenomenal and I bet all other manufacturers are left scratching their heads over it.

Then you step inside and find a very luxurious interior. Place yourself in the drivers seat and you will be stunned by the amount of buttons staring back at you. Trust me, this is one car that will require you to read the owner's manual.

You have features like brake “Hold” which when engaged holds the brake pedal for you when you are sitting at a traffic light. Now you don't have to keep your foot on the brake pedal. The system disengages as soon as you press the accelerator.

Then it has active cruise control, so now you don't have to worry about ramming into a slower car on the road ahead of you. This car will automatically keep a safe distance between you and the other car. If the other car slows down, so will you.

However the best seat in this car is in the back. Not only will you get to enjoy the DVD system with wireless headphones, you can also sit back, relax and recline the seat so it becomes an ottoman. Want to relax even more, than turn the massager on, which gave me the best massage of my life. I want this car for that seat alone.

Want some privacy back there, press a few buttons and electric shades cover both side windows and the rear glass.

There really is so much stuff in here, I can just keep going and going.

What about the stuff under the hood? It has a 4.6-litre, 32-valve V8 that produces 380 hp. That engine is mated to another world's first, an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The engine is very impressive, punchy and fuel-efficient, but the transmission leaves a little to be desired. The shifts are nothing bad, but nothing special either, in fact you can catch it off-guard quite easily and it'll shudder as it decides what gear to engage. If you use the manual mode on the gearbox to use the gear you want to play with, you'll find the system very slow in reaction. So it's not a very exciting car to drive.

However, I will say it handles a lot better than you might think it might. You appreciate its chassis and clever traction and stability control devices more in snowy weather. When the roads are less forgiving, this car absolutely shines. I loved manoeuvring around tight corners in the snow, as the stability control allows you to slide the back just a bit and then takes control of the situation. This means in the snow, it felt like a great big go-kart and hence I got to do something in a Lexus that I never did before, that is enjoy the drive.

This then is a great car. Finally a Lexus I enjoyed and would actually like to have. If you want one, a base LS460L is $98,700 and my fully loaded tester was $122,700. That is a lot of money but it is a lot of car. If you want the regular wheelbase LS460, they start at $86,400.

Lexus might not build the most exciting cars to drive, nor are they the prettiest to look at, but they are extremely well made and hence Lexus owners keep coming back.

Me, now I am looking forward to the LF-A super car. Now that is my kind of Lexus.
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