AMERICANS – a strange bunch, right?
I’ve recently been in the southern states of the US and I just can’t work them out.
When you sit in a diner for a breakfast that offers waffles, maple syrup and fried chicken on one plate as a morning meal, then notice you’re the only person not packing a firearm on his hip, you realise all this talk of them being our “cousins across the pond” is total garbage.
Sorry, I mean total rubbish.
America — where shops have names like “Drugs and Guns” (who wouldn’t want to pick up a man-killer while filling out a prescription for heavyweight opioid painkillers?).
America — a country which worships at the altar of NFL, a game so complicated I’m convinced they’re making it up as they go along. And by the way, America, we call soccer “football” because in that game we actually use our feet to move the ball. You should call your game “throwing while wearing pyjamas ball.”
America — where Lexus and Infiniti cars are actually popular.
It’s that last one which gives me a shred of hope that the Yanks aren’t completely off their heads.
Lexus, especially, is capable of making good cars. Great cars, some of them. But it also knows how to make a bad car.
The last car I drove before leaving for the land of God, guns and gargantuan guts was the Lexus RX450h L — a motor that actually sits bang in the middle of being great and terrible. In the UK the RX is the Lexus range-topper, in terms of size.
The “L” in the title stands for “long”, denoting a slightly stretched version of the Lexus big boy, which adds an extra couple of seats.
This is done in response to the growing UK demand for bigger cars — a trend which has existed in America for decades.
Lexus will tell you it has sold nearly three million RXs since it came along in 1998. That’s big biscuits, but they’re still a rare sight on our roads.
Most sales are thanks to — you’ve guessed it — the American market.
The extra length — only 110mm — doesn’t come from an extended wheelbase, which means handling hasn’t been compromised.
Anyone with an intimate relationship with the standard RX will notice the only visual difference is at the back, which has had minor surgery to accommodate the extra seats.
It’s probably a little more handsome, with a more decisive- looking upright rear windscreen.
The rear passengers get their own aircon controls, and space isn’t as cramped as some other seven seaters.
Even so, you’ll be drawing the short straw if you end up at the back for a long journey.
Elsewhere inside, Lexus keeps hitting its signature notes: Generous amounts of leather, ergonomic layout, a steering wheel festooned with buttons.
There’s also the divisive trackpad control for navigating the infotainment system. I’m not a fan, but I know people who love it, and over time it begins to make sense.
The RX interior just feels a bit confused though, as it does in many other Lexus models.
The analogue clock and reading room-like leather seats are at odds with the expanses of colour screens and laptop-inspired switchgear.
It’s at the same time old school Jag and Honda concept car.
LEXUS RX450h L
Engine: 3.5 ltr V6 hybrid
0-62mph: 8 seconds
Top speed: 112mph
Length: 5 metres
Lexus would do well to pick a lane, and I suggest the latter.
In the UK, the RX L is a three- star car.
If you read reviews on American websites you’ll probably find they’ve given it four or five.
I’ll concede it would make more sense in the land of chicken and waffles, but after spending a week there I’m not yet ready to adopt their ways.
SO KEAN ON KRGT-1
HAVE you ever wondered what the perfect recipe for a new motorcycle is? We may have found the answer in the bonkers Arch KRGT-1.
A performance cruiser in every sense, this 2032cc V-twin beauty is built to perfection using the best parts money can buy.
The fuel tank is milled from a quarter ton lump of billet aluminium, the wheels are carbon fibre and the forks are the latest race-spec springers from Ohlins.
Each and every KRGT-1 is custom finished to the exact specification of the customer. If Sir would like a bright blue seat made from sustainable fake ostrich eyelids, then that is what Sir will get.
Not only can you choose the finish, but the ergonomics will be tailor-made just for you. The seat will be sculpted around your bum and the bars will hang exactly where you want them.
With that big inch S&S motor, you’re guaranteed an exciting ride on the KRGT-1, whether you’re cruising the coast in California (where they’re made), or pottering to work on the North Circular.
Keanu is a passionate biker and worked hard with custom bike builder Gard Hollinger to create a range of exclusive bikes that do a pretty good job of making you feel as cool as Keanu actually is. Buying the bike grants you access to ridiculously cool ride outs with Keanu and Gard, taking in MotoGP races and generally living it up.
Sounds too good to be true? Well it’s not, it’s so real that we spent some time with the bike in London at the UK launch, chatting to Keanu via a live link.
At around £88k, it’s expensive, but you get what you pay for. Check out archmotorcycles.co.uk for more info.
- For more bikes search for “Bike World” on YouTube or find Bike World on Amazon Prime.
Green light for Jag’s new tech?
THERE’S a lot of clever but essentially useless new driver tech finding its way into cars these days.
But Jaguar Land Rover are working on something genuinely useful that’s worth getting excited about.
Its new system, which is being trialled on the streets of Coventry, will hopefully put an end to waiting at traffic lights.
The tech – called V2X – essentially means the car can “talk” to traffic lights, which will inform the driver of which speed to drive at to make sure they arrive at the junction or crossing on a green light.
Pretty cool, right?
SEAT’S PLAYING IT SAFE WITH ITS FUTURISTIC CRISTOBAL PROTOTYPE
CAN a car be so safe it will cut road deaths by 40 per cent?
Seat chose The Sun’s WILLIAM SPENCER as the only UK journalist to test-drive their ultra-new Cristobal prototype.
So does it work?
Breathalyser: “PLEASE BLOW NOW” booms the car. The car won’t even start until I’ve been breathalysed.
My last gin was 16 hours ago. I pass. “We want to test for drugs too,” says Seat inventor Stefan Ilijevic.
Belt up: The car also won’t start until I buckle up. No more reaching for the belt as you drive off.
Eye tracking: PLEASE KEEP EYES ON THE ROAD, warns Cristobal, as I pretend to close my eyes on the motorway. An eye tracker will spot if your eyes wander. It also detects tiredness. “This will save the most lives,” says Stefan, proudly.
Magic mirror: Press a button and the rear-view mirror displays a 175-degree video view behind the car. Great for eliminating blind spots, seeing in low lighting and allowing passengers, not just the driver, to see what’s behind.
Track or limit family: Spy on your kids’ – or husband’s – driving and impose limits at the touch of an app. Limit where they can drive and at what speed.
Vibrating bum: Tailgate the car in front or take your hands off the wheel and you’re reminded by a bum-rattling buzz from the seat.
Black box: In the event of a crash, the car records video and car stats to see who was at fault.
It’s also a psychological blocker to bad driving.
MOST READ IN MOTORS
5G future tech: Invisibility. Yup, you read that right. When all cars are connected by superfast 5G you’ll be able to see through the car in front (using their onboard cameras) to make overtaking safer.
This car hectored me into driving safely.
That said, the amount of bongs, bottom buzzes and flashing warnings did became bewildering.
But, frankly, if it saves just one life, and drives down insurance costs, I’ll take Cristobal’s safety nagging any day.
READER’S CAR OF WEEK
THANK you to reader Bernard Cook, from Rugby, Warks, for sending in this pic of his Jag X Type estate.
Bernard says: “This is my pride and joy. I’ve owned it for just over two years, bought with only 50,000 miles. It’s a Jaguar X Type SE Estate AWD 2.5 V6 Auto. I’ve had lots of cars – new and used – including quite a few different Jaguar models. This car is fully leather trimmed in the Barley spec.
“It looks so good it turns many heads and gets down the road very nicely.”
To see your beloved motor here send me a picture and brief description to firstname.lastname@example.org.