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Lexus Open Road 2011


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Due to a hectic couple of weeks this is a little delayed but just thought I'd offer my thoughts, did anyone else go to one of these? This was my first time at one and was quite impressed with the way the whole thing works, great marketing opportunity and nice to be able to take the cars out unaccompanied and go for a decent drive in them - also a nice chance to have a go in cars I'd probably never normally try anyway.

First up was the GS450h, and I was surprised to find myself incredibly disappointed with it. It was too noisy, harsh and unrefined, and the ride was quite unsettled. The engine didn't sound good, and you could hear too much of it, plus combined with the CVT it just revved up to peak power and sat there which was a really horrible noise. Not sure if this was just a bad car, but it was an 11 plate with only a few k on the clock.

Next up was the CT200h. Interestingly this was a car that I found quite unimpressive until I drove it - yes it doesn't have any power. Strange coming from an IS200 auto driver, but it is seriously slow. However as a round-about town car perfectly adequate. The surprising part was that it's handling was actually quite impressive - it felt really sharp and tight, and my original expectations of it being FWD and therefore rubbish were simply wrong. I'd have to agree with reviews that state the ride is a bit firm, but I didn't think it would put me off completely. It really isn't my kind of car, but as a second car for town use, or if I needed to drive into the city everyday and needed the congestion charge exemption, I'd seriously consider one.

After this was the IS-F - I've already driven one of these in the past but seeing as they almost forced me into one it was hard to refuse! Was just as much fun as the first time, in fact a little bit more so as I had a bit more confidence with it. Also took it at reasonable pace through some twisties and it coped very well. Didn't really notice much difference between the 2010 model I last drove and this updated 2011 model, except the revised central rev counter which does look great (although perhaps not as practical)

Then came the car I'd been most looking forward to, the LS600h, and this was by far the most surprising car of the day. To begin with the negatives, I think the interior is a real let down, a £100k car should not have such a lacklustre interior. It has all the toys but just doesn't feel like a car that's so expensive. The other negative (and an irritation of mine in all Lexus cars, and Japanese cars in general) is lights on the dash. I have always believed that there should be no lights on unless they are warning you of something wrong. Lexus seem to disagree with this, and in the LS it goes crazy with all the different settings it can have. Switch things on and it ends up looking like a xmas tree, in a normal Lexus it's annoying, in a top of the range LS costing £100k it's a real frustration. Can't remember how many things I had up, but there was cruise, LKA, suspension setting and a number of others - totally ridiculous.

Putting all that aside though, I was seriously impressed! I've not driven or been a passenger in any of the very latest luxury cars, but nevertheless I've not been in anything quite as quiet and serene as the LS. You really can't hear anything, and the hybrid/CVT drivetrain really suits this car as it removes any hint of jerks from the gearchange (however slight) and the engine just gently purrs along. Add in how awesome a place to be the back is and it's altogether a great package as a second hand buy as they seem to be depreciating quite aggressively. I imagine you could really eat up miles in one of these and not even notice, quite eager to try a Merc S Class now to compare.

Last car of the day was the RX450h - and not sure whether this was because of the cars I drove before it, but was by far the most underwhelming car I drove. It just wasn't in any way interesting, seemed more a car to just do a job, rather than something you desired, plus the average mpg gauge was showing 23mpg - however hard it had been driven that seemed quite poor. Also found the interior horrible, thought it looked nice in pics but sitting there looking at it in the flesh to me it looked awful.

One thing I found interesting jumping from one car to the next is how bad the general ergonomics are in the current range of Lexus cars. I think I'm reasonably good at jumping into a new car and finding where most switches are quite quickly, but in these it was often a struggle to find things! Plus it was more annoying that things are in different places in different models.

A surprise was how good the remote touch system is though, I thought it would be awful based on the concept of it, but using it was a different story, I really like it. Only thing being again it needs to be slightly better thought out, with a touch screen it's ok if your sometimes pressing the screen and sometimes a physical button as your hand is always moving - once you move to a mouse like controller you should be able to do everything from that, so I found it annoying in some cases where you'd need to move from the controller to a physical button (probably being over critical but that was my opinion)

Finally some pics of the LFA they had there (sorry about the quality, they're off my phone) - unfortunately despite being promised we weren't able to hear it, but was still nice to get up real close to it :)

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Nice review mate! Will certainly have to get myself down to one of these next time.

They were scared once they'd fired up the LFA you'd open your wallet and insist on a test drive! :hehe::lol:

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Nice review mate! Will certainly have to get myself down to one of these next time.

They were scared once they'd fired up the LFA you'd open your wallet and insist on a test drive! :hehe::lol:

Yeah well worth going along too (plus they seem to have rather attractive staff :whistling: :winky: )

Lol, they said it was something like £25k you have to pay before they let you have a test drive - perhaps I should have asked if it was refundable just to have a go in one :lol:

Not sure if they were lying but they said they didn't even have the keys - if true that means that even the Lexus staff weren't trusted with it (which does make a small amount of sense)

Nice write up! Enjoyed reading that :)

Thanks mate :)

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