Lexus at the Goodwood festival of speed
The Japanese brand Lexus has shaped my life in an interesting way – my late grandfather drove his way through most of their range, so the qualities of the luxury marque were instilled into me while I was growing up learning about cars.
The Japanese brand Lexus has shaped my life in an interesting way – my late grandfather drove his way through most of their range, so the qualities of the luxury marque were instilled into me while I was growing up learning about cars. And to top it all last year I was the enviable winner of a weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed with none other than Lexus. My prize included a trip up the world famous hill- climb in their supercar, the LFA. Not only did I fall in love with the V10, but it got me into writing about my experience and this lead me into turning my hand to journalism.Forward 12 months and this time it was somebody else’s turn to go up the hill and I was invited to show them around this motoring extravaganza. The winner this year was Johannes from Sweden who was treated to the full Lexus experience. This consisted of being flown into the UK, being put up in a hotel on the Embankment in London and chauffeured around in one of their cars. Like last year, there was a camera crew in tow to record the entire experience so all your family and friends can see exactly how it went…and also take the michael out of my non BBC accent, if my video was anything to go by! Our car for the weekend was the RX450h and our chauffeur had just finished working as a driver to none other than the Queen. So our trip down was filled with banter about “do you speak unless spoken to, can you do some J- Turns” (my request, but turned down due to being in an automatic) and snipers… Arriving at the VIP drop off and the cars were already hitting the hill-climb and the smell of methanol was lingering in the air. For those of you who haven’t been to Goodwood, it is a definite must for any petrol-head. Not only does it ooze high-octane fun, but all the racing legends past and present turn up to take part in this motoring garden party. Next stop was to see the set of wheels that would be transporting Johannes up his run. My climb was in the standard LFA, but this year Johannes would be sat in the Nurburgring Edition, in one of only 50 being produced. The circuit tuned car uses the same set up as the race car in the 24 Hours Nurburgring endurance race, has set a lap around the circuit of 7 minutes 22 seconds, making it the 10th fastest time ever for a production vehicle. Beaming out from under the canopy in the supercar paddock, the LFA looked totally understated compared to the others around it. It says on the spec notes that it’s orange in colour, but compared to the McLaren MP4-12C or the BMW M3 GTS, which would make wannabe WAGs fake tans look subdued, this is a very subtle offering. Revised front splitters and sculpted side sills make the styling for the Nurburgring Edition a lot more aggressive looking and added to that the ride height has been dropped by 0.4 inches. To top it off there is a fixed rear wing, making it look like an extra out of a Transformers movie, but Bumblebee this isn’t. Johannes had a grin like a Cheshire Cat when he was introduced to it and it made more than a few people stop and stare. It doesn’t ooze the loudness or flashiness of the Bugatti Veyron, but sits quietly like a Samurai warrior cleaning his sword. Of course I couldn’t resist jumping into the drivers seat and stealing the keys for a drive around would have been good, but sweet talking the PR executive for Toyota Europe, Danny Chen was proving pointless. It didn’t help that I’m a massive MotoGP fan and him a Formula One follower, as there were plenty of dividing opinions for both forms of racing. So I had to make do with stealing his iPad instead to watch the MotoGP race. But back to the car, I was ensconced in the plush alcantara Recaro bucket seats and reminisced about my ride out last year. It wasn’t until the second day that my seat was to be taken by a real driver, Japanese Super GT racer, Takayuki Kinoshita. As my driver from last, I knew that a very excited looking Johannes would be in safe hands as he went off to the start line. I could only watch in awe as the car headed up the climb, it’s Yamaha tuned exhaust note breaking the silence of the watching crowds. With an added 10 bhp from the F1 derived 4.8 litre V10, totalling it to 562 bhp, the LFA sailed past Goodwood House and the giant E-type sculpture. Crossing the finish line his ride was over in less than a minute. Seeing Johannes emerge from the car afterwards, face beaming, you could tell it was an experience he will remember for a long time. Much can be said how it compares to its counterparts and opinion will always be divided. Costing around the £380,000 mark it might seem expensive. But with only a limited run available, for those with the money it will be a shame to let this beast escape. Do you realise that ‘Lexus’ is nearly an anagram of exclusive. Clever boys these Japanese.