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Lexus IS350: Bigger in Texas

2013-03-20 16:01

TRACK TIME WITH THE BOSS: One of the new Lexus IS models on show at The Driveway track-training school near Austin, Texas. With the car is Junichi Furuyama, Lexus’ product planning chief engineer.Image: LES STEPHENSON


AUSTIN, Texas - It was the launch that wasn’t – but will be. Lexus has been introducing its awesome new IS350/IS250 sports sedans to the international motoring media over the past week in the Texan state capital.

Problem is, I can’t really tell you anything about the car yet because the Japanese automaker has put a world embargo on the story until March 25 on journalistic pain of beheading by Samurai sword.

So I asked “what can I publish on Wheels24, South Africa’s largest motoring news website?”. When the awe of my identity and importance in the media world eased in the spokesman’s eyes he explained that motoring writers from other parts of the world had still to drive the car and that it wouldn’t be fair on them if the story broke first in other parts of the globe.


He has a point, and it’s one I’ve made with South African auto companies – to some effect – that sending out their vehicle launch info to the world at large when journalists who have given their time to attend the event and actually drive their products are incommunicado on the plane home those who DIDN’T attend, give time, etc, get a beat on the story.

And my boss gets chirpy about it.

So I’ll try to tell you things that don’t matter... that South Africa will get two versions of only the IS350 – one of them sportier than the other - and that Lexus SA will release them on the South African market in June/July 2013 at “aggressive prices” not much different to the current models despite the cars having more new tech and bodies put together in a whole new high-tech way.

Some of the tech catches up on Lexus’ competitors, some still falls a little short, but the launch included track time at the very special Driveway Motoring Academy and Retreat alongside the Colorado River and included time in competing products from Mercedes and BMW. The purpose-built track includes sections copied from famous F1 circuits around the world.


More time was spent on the vehicle conveyor belts (aka freeways) through and around Austin – which some claim is America’s most beautiful city, and I can’t argue because it’s only the third one I’ve seen – but nothing we drove on rivalled the exquisite passes of SA’s Western Cape for automotive for exploring a new car’s handling prowess and comfort.

Given its tech, the new IS350 on SA’s shopping list (the IS250 and IS Hybrid versions are not coming), the handling shouldn’t be a problem. Certainly the cars’ comfort and styling are beyond reproach.

Wheels24 looks forward to filling in the (many) missing details and releasing a large gallery of images and video for you at around 4pm South African time on March 25 2013.


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