Monday – Happy Monday

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There’s a slightly secret group of people out there dedicated to Lexus. They’re definitely ‘in the know’ and appreciate something a little different.

They’re very likely to corner you after a dinner party and remind you that Lexus is a brand that regularly tops the JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey – the respected industry stamp of happy car ownership, voted for by real drivers, in the real world.

And they are the sort of drivers who stick with a make, year in, year out and can be rather smug about it too. Well, apart from that rather tasteless dashboard described yesterday, I’m starting to see why that is.

The IS300h is beautifully screwed together and oozes quality from every angle. Disappointing our SE isn’t equipped with leather trim or heated seats but I can forgive that when I know I’m driving a brand that has been proved to gives years of happy motoring.

 

 

Saturday – Honey I Lost the Car!

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I’ll admit it. I’ve just walked past the rear of the IS300h thinking it was a BMW 3 Series. I was on the mobile and distracted but I suddenly found myself down the wrong end of the car park looking for a Lexus.

Have a peep at the boot in our photo above – is there a BMW designer moonlighting in Japan I wonder? No mistaking the front end though, with those bug-eyed headlights on the IS.

There are also more welcome similarities with the BMW when it comes to handling. This latest IS is incredibly precise around corners and feels every inch a driver’s car, although it’s not as fast to 60mph as the diesel Beemer.

And then there’s the artificial noise generator! The Lexus delivery driver told me our SE had a system that sent sound into the cabin to simulate the sound of the engine, sometimes missing in a hybrid. As of today, I’m not entirely sure when the SE has it or not.

To be honest, I don’t want to know if it is fitted because it’s much more fun trying to work out whether it is there or not! I’ll get to the bottom of it, once I’ve had time to open the manual….

Thursday – Flying Dutchmen

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The 2013 World Solar Challenge ended in Adelaide today – with the fastest car completing the 3000km road trip from Darwin in just 33 hours and five minutes.

Team Nuon from Delft University in Holland was pushed all the way by reigning two-time champions Team Tokai from Japan.

Cloud and rain greeted the solar cars on the arrival into Adelaide. It was Team Tokai who came off worst when they ran out of power on the final approach. They had to pull over about 60 kilometres from the finish and take what charge they could get from the grey skies.

The 2013 event will be a bad memory for some of the other teams – not just the British entry, forced to pull out before the race even started.

The American solar champions from University of Michigan were blown sideways by winds touching 80mph heading into Coober Pedy, damaging their car and putting them out of a top five finish.

Car Couture will be back to normal tomorrow – with a week-long UK road test of the Subaru Forester…

 

 

Wednesday – High Flying Mazda

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Jeremy I’m just back from interviewing Declan Clifford – the UK’s top cable wakeboarder. Number two in the last world championships, he could jump over the Mazda2 without a take-off ramp!

The hottest day of the year so far was the perfect moment for me to have a masterclass from the youngster. It was like learning to drive all over again and I went flying every time I was dragged from the bank by the cable pulley.

It’s my last day with the Mazda and I wasn’t really looking forward to the 300-mile round trip in the supermini. Suffice to say, the 2 was a lot better than I expected on a long dustance, high-speed run.

It does lack power from a standing start and can be sluggish uphill but once you have the engine wound up, it fair zips along. Noise levels are pretty low at motorway speeds but I think the next generation 2 would benefit from a sixth gear.

It’s been a fairly uneventful week in the Mazda, which is probably what any prospective buyer wants to hear! I’d say this was the perfect car for urbanites, espeically those who have to make the odd longer distance drive.

The styling still works five years after launch, interior space is excellent and because it’s a Mazda, it’s unlikely to let you down any time soon. Great fun but the Sport we drove just needs a slightly more powerful engine…