Really fast and quiet as a whisper

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

When test-driving a high-performance sports car that costs R797000, and taking into consideration that there are only 10 in the country, you tend to take special precautions.

Following distances are increased, squeezing into parking bays at the shopping mall is a no-no, and any thought of having a drink before driving is quickly banished.

So imagine my horror when only hours after getting behind the wheel of the Lexus SC430 I had to confront a Lewis Hamilton-wannabe careering down a one-way street in the wrong direction.

Thank goodness the car is equipped with ABS brakes that brought me to a standstill in seconds. Pleasantries were exchanged between the two of us, mostly using sign language, but for a moment I thought I would be phoning Lexus head office and trying to explain to them they now only have nine SC430s in the country. And the rest of my career would be spent covering soil erosion stories in the Karoo.

The SC430 coupe is without doubt a looker, but with the roof up the rear of the car looks out of proportion to the rest of the vehicle. Drop the top and it takes on that sporty look the designers were obviously after.

Only problem is, with the roof neatly stored away in the boot, luggage space is practically nonexistent.

Same goes for the rear seats. Colleague Charlotte Tau, who is so tiny she makes Kate Moss look like a sumo wrestler, battled to get comfortable.

That's the negatives out of the way.

The SC430 is equipped with a V8 six-speed automatic gearbox hooked up to an impressive 4,3-litre engine. We're talking serious power here (210kw and a top speed of 250kmh) but what is so surprising is how quiet the vehicle is.

You don't so much drive as float.

Normal around town driving sees the rev counter sitting between 1000 and 2000rpm and if it wasn't for the fact that you're eating up the kilometres, you wouldn't know the engine is switched on.

Inside the car is pure luxury. The lush carpets make you feel guilty hopping in with your shoes on; the real-deal wood panelling oozes class and the leather seats are super comfortable.

Hook this up with an amazing Mark Levinson audio system with nine speakers and enough comfort features to keep even the most demanding satisfied, and you realise why this particular vehicle was named Sexiest Sports Car in America a couple of years back.