Lexus GS 300
Lexus has spent almost fifteen years to come from nowhere to
be the top of the heap in the luxury class. Donít believe me? Look up the J.D.
Power surveys for the past few years. Lexus has been a regular recipient of
quality and customer satisfaction awards from the J.D. Power and Associates
analysts. In fact, in May 2003, Lexus scored its seventh successive Initial
Quality awards and became the highest ranked Premium Luxury car in the US.
Lexus GS 300
The history is interesting. Toyota took the bull by the horns
in the mid-1980ís. By 1983 Toyota had built up a name for solid, dependable
motor vehicles, but they had nothing to challenge the upper echelon
Mercedes-Benz or BMW. At a secret meeting of Toyota management, Eiji Toyoda
proposed the building of a luxury car to rival the worldís best. This concept
was called "Flagship 1" and was then known as "F1" to the
By July 1985 the first of 450 running prototypes was built.
It represented the work of 60 designers, 24 engineering teams, 1,400 engineers,
2,300 technicians, and 220 support workers.
It was four years later that the final product was shown at
the motor shows in Detroit and Los Angeles, with the brand name
"Lexus" and the designation LS 400, which stood for "Luxury
Sedan" of 4 litres in capacity. LS 400 grew into LS 430, but by now I
believe it needs replacing.
The GS series is another model line-up and the new car does
no longer look "Japanese", with a clean, classic new styling approach
overseen by British designer Simon Humphries. In profile it even looks a little
like the CLS Class Mercedes, which was, for my money, the car of the show at the
Bangkok International Motor Show in March this year.
The V6 is a new, 60-degree, all-alloy engine with plenty of
design trickery including variable-timing inlet and exhaust camshafts as well as
direct fuel injection. With a fairly high 11.5:1 compression ratio, the 3 litre
engine delivers exceptional power and torque for its capacity; 183 kW and a
quite astounding 310 Nm of torque. The concept of going to a bent six is also
new, as up till now they had been persevering with in-line sixes in the GS
The impressive V6 is attached to a six-speed automatic
transmission developed by Lexus that gives the GS line its first
sequential-shifting gearbox and replaces the old five-speed E-shift. Power is
sent through to the rear wheels. Again this is the Lexus meeting the challenge
issued by the BMW 5 Series.
The suspension is all-new, with a multi-link arrangement
replacing the double-wishbone setup used previously and matching the double
wishbones at the front. Lexus says itís a light weight system, with cast
aluminium used for the suspension uprights, both at front and rear. Anti-Dive
geometry is included in the new package.
All this works in with a carefully thought-out underbody
where the aerodynamics play a part in keeping the overall Cd figure to a low
0.27 while creating stability-inducing downforce at speed. Aerodynamics play a
part in road-going cars these days, as well as in F1.
According to testers Down-under, the Lexus handles impeccably
too. The steering is nicely weighted and responds quickly to driver input, while
the ride is firm and well controlled without being in the least bit harsh. Itís
a well-sorted suspension package, although the tactility of any of the German
opponents is missing.
What buyers relate to in the GS300 is the exquisite quality,
the generous standard equipment and the sense of complete refinement even in
this supposedly driver-oriented model.
However, the feeling that comes across is the total divorce
of human from the road, a negative factor from the sporting motoristís point
of view. The testerís final appraisal was that the GS is superb as far as
styling, technology levels, safety features, comfort, refinement, build quality,
cabin quietness, performance, engine smoothness, handling, and equipment levels
are concerned, but from the sporty driverís position, it lacks passion and
The new V6 GS300 will set you back 5.3 million in this country! A great car
if youíve got a chauffer.
Last week, I asked which band leader drove for 52 hours
straight to win a European rally, after his co-driver fell ill. The answer was
Belgian Johnny Claes, winning the Liege-Rome-Liege for the second time in a
Lancia Aurelia GT in 1953.
So to this week. An easy one. Who made the first Jeeps, and
what engine did they have?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email auto [email protected]
GM becomes the leader of the slashers
With GM having managed to increase sales by the simple
expedient of slashing prices, it seems everyone now wants to jump on to the
cut-price bandwagon. GM were offering a 15 percent "staff" discount
which was enough to increase their sales numerically, by almost 50 percent,
compared to June 2004.
Interested watchers on the sidelines included Ford Motor
Corporation, whose sales have not been filling the corporate coffers. In a
classic example of a "me too" campaign, FoMoCo are offering the
"Ford Family Plan," in which Ford will shave thousands of dollars off
the sticker prices of most 2005 model vehicles, said company spokesman David
Again, in an exact copy of the GM plan, Ford will sell its
vehicles to anybody at the same prices Ford employees pay. "Itís a great
deal that weíre going to deliver in a simple, consistent way to
customers," Reuter said. "Weíre going to advertise this widely, in a
huge significant way throughout the month."
In yet another "me too", the Chrysler unit of DaimlerChrysler has
brought out its own employee pricing program, showing perhaps it is the lack of
original thought that has been putting Detroit in the doldrums for many months!
Whatever, there will be some bargains for the next 30 days or so, until Detroitís
parking lots of unsold cars are cleared.
Minardi team for sale?
Here is your opportunity to become an Eff Wun team owner!
Take in millions of dollars from financially well heeled young drivers who will
pay heavily to sit in your old outdated F1 cars and spend each lap looking in
the rear vision mirrors! If you are really lucky, 14 cars might not start and
you can actually win points in the championships, but you will have to say that
you really didnít want to race, but you had to, because four others were
No, in the latest threat to F1, Minardi boss Paul Stoddart
claims he will sell the Minardi team and quit F1 unless Max Mosley resigns as
FIA president. Stoddartís call is the just latest in his quest to get Mosley
to relinquish his presidency in what has become a long-running feud between the
two and which intensified following the United States GP tyre debacle.
Of course this threat to F1 stability has about as much
effect as slapping Max on the wrist twenty times with a wet train ticket. The
garrulous Stoddart was reported talking to the "highly" regarded motor
racing publication, the News of the World, which will publish anything about
anything, as long as they can get a half naked girl in the story as well.
"The teams have had a gutful of Max," he told News
of the World. "Either he goes or F1 as we know it today will go. I think a
breakaway series is guaranteed. It doesnít matter who replaces him. He is so
bad now that anyone could do it. If Max does not resign then I am not staying in
F1. Life is too short to be involved in this political s**t. Thatís it as far
as I am concerned. I will finish this season off and see what happens. If Max
stays, I am going to put the team up for sale."
Paul, it canít come quickly enough. You have become an
embarrassment and have dragged the once proud name of Minardi down into the
Go-Karts in Pattaya this weekend
One of the regular readers sent me the following email.
"I stopped by the middle-size Kart track near the bungy jump on Thepprasit
Rd., Soi 9 this morning. Hereís the straight scoop regarding the next
scheduled race as posted on the bulletin board at the track: Organized Kart
races are Saturday and Sunday, 16, 17 July 2005. About seven different classes
from peewee kidís in 60cc Karts to portly Farangs in 125cc Karts will be
competing. Saturday is dedicated to regulated practice and qualifying trials.
Sunday 7.20 a.m. thereís more practice until the first wheel-to-wheel heat
scheduled for 9.20 a.m. Racing is scheduled all day Sunday in 5-15 lap heats
with a break for lunch. The final round for all classes is scheduled for 3 p.m.
"Kart race organizers appear to have their act together
with very professional organization and serious safety standards. For
spectators, the entire track is visible from tables in the covered refreshment
area, making for exciting and comfortable viewing.
Robert Peterson AKA Thaibobby"
So there you are Go-Kart fans down on the Eastern Seaboard
region, the action is this weekend. It is also a great track, so there should be
plenty of action.