Luxurious but a tad stifling

2011-01-21 13:22

Nothing makes a long road trip easier than making it in a luxury car.

But while the new Lexus IS250 proved to be comfy, it wasn’t the perfect holiday car it initially promised to be.

The IS250 face-lift looks almost identical to the previous model and if you are clueless about cars, you’ll miss the subtle changes.

The most noticeable highlight is the addition of the LED daytime running lights,new integrated fog-lights, 18-inch wheels and loads of standard equipment.

On collection of the car, it only had 47km on the odometre. At the end of the festive holidays it clocked in at 7?700km.

The six-speed automatic transmission for the 1?400km road trip was great for smooth driving. Sadly, though, the IS250 is not as big on the inside as it looks from the outside.

As it was only going to be myself and my boyfriend in the car, we invited a friend to tag along.

Space, however, soon became an issue. We had one big suitcase, a smaller one and a backpack in the boot, along with our friend’s long duffel bag which had to be folded and squeezed in.

The car is comfortable with paddle shifts to change gears when you want more of a sportier drive.

It also has cruise control to set a constant speed to help reduce fuel consumption.

The IS250 averaged between 500km to 600km a tank (65?litres) on the open road.

After ­setting off from Joburg, the first fuelling station was in Bloemfontein as we were down to a quarter of a tank. Not bad considering we had driven 420km.

The built-in navigation system was especially helpful as we drove through the night. The N1 highway can be very dark and the open road is often difficult to read.

So the navigation system warned us of upcoming bridges, rivers and tight bends.

We topped up twice more ­before we arrived in Somerset West, so in total it was just more than R1?000 for fuel and the same on our way back.

With adjustable, heated front seats, which could also blow cold air, sitting in the front seat was as comfy as the bed at home.

The integrated bluetooth and phone systems mean fewer distractions. You can connect four cellphones at once to receive and make calls while driving.

As soon as we hit Worcester, about 100km outside Cape Town, I could feel the IS250’s 2.5?litre V6 engine become more responsive and its growl a tad louder.

It obviously loved the air on the coast.

The only thing about the car that constantly ruined my holiday was its relatively limited boot and uncomfortable rear passenger space.

I wanted to take my family down to Saldanha Bay on the West Coast, but I could only manage to fit my parents in the back seat.

There’s no room for a third adult. And if you’re slightly taller than the average 13-year-old, you’re going to have a sore neck.

Because of the sedan’s coupe shape, the roof is low at the back and leaves little headroom.

Leaving home again meant ­extra goodies to fit for the ­return trip and everyone had to help.

Among the extras we had to fit in were all sorts of car parts – we’re car fanatics after all – and in the end our passenger for the trip back home had to share the backseat with the cooler box.

Driving back to Joburg was a breeze as the roads were relatively quiet.

By the time we reached Beaufort West the car was beginning to feel sluggish because of the higher altitude.

The IS250 has the sporty look Lexus was going for despite it being a sedan, and it’s luxurious on the inside, but its impractical space put me off.

It would make many families think twice before shelling out half-a-million rand to buy one.

The car, I think, is best suited to a well-heeled businessperson who wants a luxury sedan for daily use.

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