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The Mercury Cars Guide : May 30th 2009
20— CARSguide Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au Saturday, May 30, 2009 Lexus shines in good company R EMEMBERthe days when cars came with a real tool kit with an assortment of spanners, pliers and screw- drivers rolled up in a pouch? No? You’re forgiven because that was a generation ago when cars were often unreli- able and the proverbial piece of bailing wire, chewing gum or a belt with a hammer usually fixed most problems. Those days you could ac- tually see the engine and have space to work on it. Not any more. Engines are buried under pretty plastic covers, you need long arms and child-sized hands to reach anything — and there’s noth- ing mechanical you can fix anyway. The good old days. Forget it. At least today’s crop of cars are generally bullet-proof and if they do stop, they will tell you what ails them. The me- chanic’s (or should that be technician’s) laptop has re- placed greasy hands in the workshop. Computers and ECUs just about manage everything nowadays, from under-bonnet stuff like making sure the engine, transmission, suspen- sion and safety gear are all talking with each other to looking after your creature comforts like the cabin tem- perature and the stereo sys- tem. I was thinking about all of this electronic wizardry while cocooned in the leather luxury of Lexus’ new RX350, a soft- roader which is taking on BMW, Audi and Benz in the urban wagon market. I’d just inched the big Lexus down a narrow, twisty lane- way, the sort of exercise which firstname.lastname@example.org with KEITH DIDHAM brings out a cold sweat with the very real potential of in- flicting embarrassing panel damage. But this Lexus is clever. The rear-facing camera with reverse guidance system made it child’s play. To top it off, this beasty came with a camera mounted under the passen- ger’s door mirror so you could exactly see how much clear- ance there was to play with. Now, I’ll admit when I first saw the door camera I dis- missed it as yet another Lexus electronic gimmick but, like the power operated tailgate, I’ve changed my mind. Parking manoeuvre achieved with not a scratch or scrape to explain to Mr Lexus, and back on the road the RX350 felt and drove like a plush and whisper-quiet lim- mo. The RX350 showcases just howfar the humble wagon has leapt the technology void. The revamped and better looking RX350 (the old version has been around since 2003) was launched in March as the Lexus answer to theBMWX5, Benz ML350 and Audi’s Q7. That’s some tough company to keep. There are three levels of equipment — Prestige, Sport (my pick) and Sports Luxury (tested) and all come with an impressive more for less story. The more part to the equa- tion includes a comprehensive equipment package with little in the way of options which is opposite to its rivals whose add-on list can be extensive. One of the impressive gad- gets is the new touch-screen navigation system, which is controlled by a fixed palm- shaped computer mouse in the centre console. It takes a little while to become familiar with (you use your left hand) but its operation became second na- ture and made for quick flick- ing through the controls for the navigation, audio and air- conditioning systems. We also liked the heads up display so your speed is pro- jected on to the windscreen within eyesight—there are no more excuses for ignoring your speedometer. More also includes heated or cooled seats with a nifty 10-way power adjustment, a power-operated rear tailgate and an easy-fold system for the back seats so hauling long items is a breeze. LUXURY MARKET: The 2009 Lexus RX350 off-roader and interior, inset. More also includes a slight improvement from the old 3.5-litre V6 which has been carried over and a new six- speed sequential automatic transmission. The V6 offers modest gains in both power and torque—now 204kW and 346Nm — but peak torque comes in high on the rev band at 4700rpm. As for the less: The RX350 uses less fuel and on paper that’s terrific. Offi- cially, fuel usage has dropped from 11.2 litres per 100km to 10.8l/100km (that’s Commo- dore country) butwenever got near that figure under test, with actual consumption aver- aging 13.5l/100km. OK, call me a lead foot. The switch to a six-speed transmission from the old five makes sense and helps to smooth out the Lexus’ high and lows in power delivery. Power is normally fed to the front wheels until one of those computers decides there’s too much slipping going on so it progressive feeds drive to all wheels — but not seemlessly. Top marks for the level of safety equipment with electro- nic stability and traction con- trol, multiple airbags, and ra- dar cruise control, pre- collision system which tight- ens the seat belts and pumps up the brake pressure. Not so top marks for the level of comfort offered for back-seat passengers thanks to a lack of headroom and the upright seating position. Lexus doesn’t offer a diesel version but a hybrid version (the RX450h) is comingin July. Verdict: We like the RX350 and it is certainly worth short- listing against its rivals, just on value for money alone. Howmuch:from $81,900 for the baseRXto $94,900for the Luxury as tested.Themid-spec Sports sells for $88,900. Engine: 3.5lV6 Power:204kWat 6200rpm;346Nmat 4700rpm Weight:ahefty2085kg (top of the range model) Fuel consumption: claimed 10.8l/100km; tested 13.5l/100km Co2:254g/km small torque Lexus RX350 DRIVE AWAY A NEAR NEW NISSAN TODAY! $15, 08 NISSAN Tiidas Choice of colours,auto & manual MANUAL AUTOMATIC • Manual/automatic • Cruise control (auto only) • Air conditioning $16, www.djmotors.com.au email@example.com • ABS brakes • Dual airbags • Balance of new car warranty 990DRIVE 990DRIVE AWAY AWAY Easy finance available with DJ Financial Services Hobart 1a Brisbane Street,Hobart Phone: 6213 3300 Warren Amos 0417 544 829 Luke Mitchell 0408 545 146 Glenorchy 275 Main Road,Glenorchy Phone: 6213 3315 Brian Anning 0418 531 853 Chris Wakefield 0400 635 446 Allan Gebel 0428 729 659 Manual from $ †To approved business clients only, with a $2,500 deposit over five years with a 30% residual payment. Interest rate 10.50%. 9.00 per day†
May 23rd 2009
June 6th 2009