The Big Daddy Lexus 460 has been launched, and looking at the sales for Lexus cars so far, the company is doing very well.
Brian Hastie, marketing manager of Lexus South Africa, says that the successful launch of both the new GS and IS needed to be completed by a "halo" model - the one that all Lexus owners fantasise about, the ultimate goal. So that's why the favoured few journalists invited to the launch were dressed like plutocrats - black tie and tuxedo. The only thing missing was the cigars.
We were all there to return the small fleet of Lexus LS 460 cars. It was an unusual idea hatched by Hastie and his colleagues. Instead of doing the usual flight to somewhere out in the blue beyond and driving the cars away in convoy, we had all been handed keys and waved goodbye to go and live with the car for a day. To live one "normal" day so luxuriously that it seemed abnormal.
My life involves a lot of travel and I told the gents at Lexus that they shouldn't panic if they picked up the car's signal in the environs of Sun City.
I was scheduled to be in the platinum province on the day they handed me the keys to their car.
After setting the standard bluetooth phone set, I set off without a glitch, except for the tiny gate exit at the Ten Bompas restaurant in Hyde Park. A Mini Cooper would easily fly out of there but a Lexus LS 460 needs particular attention to manoeuvre because of its elephantine size. Mercifully there's a group of park-distance sensors spread around the car which ensured I didn't take the electric gate along with me to the Bafokeng tribe near Sun City.
It took only a few kilometres to adjust to the car, and that was while negotiating afternoon traffic. And before long I was sailing through the congestion as if it was just another day.
While stop-start driving along the highway it was a good time to study the many features and at a glance I picked up on electric windows with electric blinds for all rear windows, four- zone air-conditioning, a large multi-function steering wheel, a colourful central interface that houses a DVD player, GPS navigation, and about 20 pages of extra features. I could also hear Magesh Tshabalala singing clearly. I'd booked him for a private concert using the standard 19-speaker Mark Levinson hi-fi system.
Sitting in traffic on couch-like leather seats that operate electrically, I felt pampered and wasn't at all bothered by the cars passing me on the N1. If this is how people who can afford a R780000 vehicle feel, then the strength of the 4,6-litre V8 that produces 280kW at 6400rpm and 493Nm of torque at 4100rpm is proof indeed that with money comes power. And how does an 8-speed automatic gearbox with changes that feel like they are coated in whipped cream sound?
With the attributes of the LS 460 powerful motor I did the trip in record time. My only worry was the varied species of North West insects I had collected on the Lexus' exquisite bodywork.