New Lexus Geese Hybrid

I may have misheard. I’m slightly mutton.

It's like that little Lexus, only bigger.

This is the new Lexus GS. It’s more full of toys and trickery than just about anything short of a Typhoon fighter. I like the head up display and the Lane Keeping Assist gizmo which can do a little steering for you when you can no longer be arsed to steer for yourself. Possibly. It has a Lane Departure Warning system. If I had designed it, it would be a small anxious person in the front passenger seat who would yell, “Look where you’re going! Pay attention, please! I don’t want to die!” Lexus’ engineers have probably come up with something more electronic.

Moody exterior shot

I like the exterior styling. I have a weakness for those integrated exhaust pipe doodahs. The current LS has something similar, as does the Vauxhall Insignia VXR. Its ones are a little more flamboyant. The W12 version of the last Audi A8 had a particularly fine set of integrated exhausts, as I remember. Anyway, the GS takes on some of the L-Finesse design language from the LS and kind of skooches it together with the little CT styling to get something that the Hyundai i40 probably wants to be when it grows up. That’s not a bad thing. That’s a good thing. The current GS is a little sad; it’s not quite memorable enough. In fact, I had to go and have a look at it on Lexus’ website and was surprised. When I started writing this post I was thinking about the Mark 2 version, which replaced the very first one and was in turn replaced some time ago. I think of myself as a Lexus fan and even I can’t remember what the current GS is supposed to look like. The new one, which Lexus is launching at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, is a huge improvement. I think it’s the best looking GS since the first one and a suitably dynamic stablemate to the rather sober LS.

Ooh, sparkly stuff!

Lexus interiors are usually places where even the most button-fixated rotter can easily lose a couple of hours playing with all the toys. There is a Mark Levinson stereo system available with a rather worrying 835W output and 7.1 channel Surround Sound. That would have me curled up in a small ball in the footwell, my head in my hands, begging someone to turn the sound down. Maybe that’s why the GS has that active Lane Keeping Assistant thingie. The multimedia screen on the cars with sat-nav is bigger than the one on the laptop on which I’m writing this post. As long as it has a DAB receiver so I can get uninterrupted TMS, I’ll be a happy man.

Britain will get a GS450h hybrid and a downsized GS250, presumably with the engines and drivetrains adapted from the current GS and IS cars. Nary a sign of a diesel engine in spite of its importance in the European market. These cars are not really intended for Europe. These are for the US and Asia where they’ll probably sell very well. They’ll continue to sell in small numbers in the UK. Sales start in 2012 to people who want something a little different and really, really hate diesels.

Cars For Runners

I’m on the blag. Sort of. Some of you may know that in another life I’ve become a bit of a runner. (Insert joke here about posh bloke saying how chins run in his family and much less posh bloke telling him that noses run in his. Only if you think it’s funny, mind.) If anyone feels so inclined, they can toddle over to my Just Giving page where I’m raising cash for Macmillan Cancer Support in a slightly cack-handed fashion. That’s the most important part of the blag out of the way.

In May I ran a half marathon for the first time. It was in Edinburgh, it was freezing cold, slightly rainy and I loved practically every step of it. For a man who a year ago was doing an excellent job of smoking himself to death, I think I did a reasonable job of it and finished in 1 hour, 55 minutes and 30 seconds. I got a medal and a t-shirt and goody bag full of things for blisters and a massage from a very attractive young woman in a tent. These were all useful, especially the massage. If you need a massage, all you need to do is run a wee half marathon and agree to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Alternatively, you can buy a Lexus LS600h L and get the Ottoman seating option for the back. Have a look.

The other seat converts into a jacuzzi

I need one of these for the next part of the Sore Legs Tour 2011. I’m doing the Moray Marathon in Elgin in September and I have a sod of a drive home afterwards. It’s 500 miles back from there to Cambridge and I’ll have sore everything. The Octavia is a wonderful car in many ways and does in fact have very comfortable long distance seats, cruise control, a nice big fuel tank, an abstemious engine and a driving position which ensures going from one end to the country is possible but boring, boring, boring. The Lexus would be a fantastic way to make the journey home, especially in that special seat in the back. There is only one but it reclines, vibrates, is heated and air-cooled and has that footstool thing going on. It’s a more discreet take on a Maybach 62. The car is quiet and quick but a little heavy and not as fuel-efficient as hybrids are supposed to be.

Given that I don’t have a driver, maybe an S-class would be a better idea. It’s practically the definition of long distance comfy barge travel. An S350 Bluetec diesel has a long range and can come with a heated, cooled, vibrating driver’s seat to soothe tired muscles in legs and backs especially for a sore marathon runner. The sore marathon runner’s brother who is also going to be running would be grateful that there are three other heated, cooled, ventilated and vibrating seats to choose from because he’s going to be aching like a bastard too.

It has a telly and everything.

The Jag XJ would be nice too. It has a refined diesel engine or a stupidly powerful supercharged V8 one. Either would get me back home in style. The Audi A8 has “comfort seats” as an option. I’m not sure about that one. Are the standard ones called “slight backache?” Its interior is glorious and I particularly like the way the MMI screen glides out of its slot in the dashboard. It’s subtly different and seemingly more expensive than the one in the A6 and A7. The 7-series BMW is an awkward looking thing but it has “comfort seats” too. It’s the one I would choose if I hadn’t had to drive after running 26 miles, 385 yards. If I were being completely silly, there is the BMW 13-series or Rolls-Royce Ghost as its maker would much rather have it.

In the end, it all comes down to the S-Class or the LS. I really like the LS. I’ve liked them since the LS400 was launched all those years ago. It’s rare, discreet to the point of anonymity and refined. It’s not even slightly sporty. Were I riding in the back, it’s the one I’d have. However, since I’m going to be driving myself, it’s got to be the Mercedes. Now all I need is a lottery win or a huge favour from Mercedes Press Office.