My passion for cars was instilled in me by my big brother Brett and his best mate Barry. Between them they’ve owned a Fiat, MG, Saab, E Type Jaguar, Maserati and probably some I have forgotten.
Until they both got married and had other obligations. It hasn’t really made them boring, though – now that the short-of-cash period has passed Brett has an Audi S4 Avant and Barry a Porsche 911.
I once read an article in our local newspaper about a ninety-something woman who drove her Porsche through the front doors of her apartment building and into the lift. Everyone else was shaking their heads and tut-tutting. And I was sitting there fervently praying that would be me in my nineties. Driving a Porsche that is, not head-butting a lift.
I am currently driving a Fiat 500 by Gucci convertible which is just perfect for around town on the Gold Coast. It is a gorgeous car and defies the “Fix It Again Tony” acronym joke as this is the second Fiat Cinquecento I have owned that I’ve had no problems at all.
The only thing is that Aldo the Fiat is not comfortable for long road trips, especially with passengers. Last week I had to drive two colleagues and myself to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital for work reasons and then back the next day.
I needed a larger vehicle and hoped Ewan would have something fancy for impressing my colleagues. And he produced a car the size of a limousine – a slightly stretched one at that. I drove a beautiful Lexus LS500h.
It’s a great looking car with a seriously sculpted front that’s dominated by a huge grille which is flanked by headlights that have ‘L’ for Lexus shapes. The rear is almost as striking, with numerous interlocking curves and a built-in spoiler.
This upmarket Japanese machine is very long, very luxurious and the back seat is actually two very sumptuous armchairs, each with their own TV screens.
Both colleagues wanted to sit in the back but I told them that one would be needed up front to keep me awake. Lucky I insisted on that because the one in the back was sound asleep within five minutes of leaving, so comfortable was his back seat!
The interior is very luxurious and welcoming but for some reason they have used that really old fashioned flat looking deep red leather on the dash. But this just a personal dislike and for all I know it is back in at the height of fashion. In any case eight other colours are on offer.
The car was very easy to drive and the fact it was a hybrid was barely noticeable – except that the fuel consumption was amazingly low. Five hours of driving on just over a quarter of a tank. Average fuel use was just 6.8 litres per hundred kilometres. My Fiat 500 uses more than that driving around town!
The radar cruise control was great and from the Gateway Bridge north I did not touch a pedal until turning off the motorway. Very nice.
I did have some concerns. I’m 168cm tall and like to sit high so I can see the bonnet. But the driver’s seat would not go high enough for me. I did get used to the sitting position quite quickly but would have preferred to sit higher.
The only other negative was that I felt that it needed two end-on-end carparks. It probably would have fitted in one, just.
In-cabin technology in the LS500h includes a 12.3-inch multi-media screen and a stunning Mark Levinson 23-speaker audio that while not quite concert hall is a real delight to sit inside, yes inside, your really are surrounded by quality sound.
Sports Luxury additional features in the LS500h I drove include four-zone climate control with rear cooler, 22-way power rear seats with passenger-side ottoman and seven massage programs, and rear-seat entertainment.
Two powertrains are offered, a 310 kW twin-turbo V6 in the LS 500, and the hybrid LS 500h that uses a naturally-aspirated V6 petrol and electric power for a maximum 264kW. Our test car was the hybrid, as identified by the rather discreet ‘h’ in its title.
The Lexus Safety System+ includes a pre-collision system, all-speed radar active cruise control, lane keep assist and adaptive high-beam system to control the LED headlamps. Blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, pop-up bonnet for pedestrian projection, and tyre pressure monitoring system.
If you need a car for ultra-smooth, very-comfortable, long-distance travelling, the big Lexus LS500h is just great, and amazingly economical into the bargain.
AT A GLANCE
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Lexus dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Lexus LD500h 3.5-litre petrol/electric hybrid five-door wagon)
Capacity: 3.456 litres
Maximum Power: 264 kW @ 6600 rpm
Maximum Torque: 348 Nm @ 4900 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleade / electric
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 6.7 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 152 g/km
DRIVELINE: Continuously variable transmission
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4770 mm
Wheelbase: 2870 mm
Width: 1920 mm
Height: 1345 mm
Turning Circle: 10.8 metres
Kerb Mass: 2020 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Four years / unlimited kilometres