Published on July 27th, 2018 | by Subhash Nair


3 Lexus Models That We Would Take Over Their European Rivals

The fourth premium option in Malaysia (after Benz, Bimmer and Volvo) is Lexus. And anyone who knows the market knows that all Lexus models are fully imported from Japan. As a result, they’re priced a lot higher than the European marques.

Want a Lexus IS? Be prepared to spend between RM280K-390K. Bimmer, Benz, Audi, and Volvo all have competitor cars that start at RM195K-RM225K.

But what if we told you that there are quite a few Lexus models that are actually better value buys than their German rivals. Let’s start at the very top.

The Lexus LC 500. We drove this a couple of months ago and found it to be an exceptionally well-built and easy-to-live with super tourer.

At today’s prices, it’s going for RM887K. Of course, at this level, competition can never be so direct. Porsche’s 911 is a good candidate, but we’re of the opinion that a 911 buyer is not really concerned with value for money. There are other options though. The Mercedes-AMG GT S, when launched, was touted as a ‘value-oriented’ tourer at 1.15 million Ringgit. Today it costs RM1,062,659.

And though it has lots more power (510hp vs 470hp) and torque (650Nm vs 540Nm), the price difference is simply not justified. The LC’s ability to ‘relax’ with its engine in ‘Atkinson Cycle’ mode truly makes it an easy car to cruise around in. As a result, it actually consumes less fuel overall (8.6L/100km) vs (9.4L/100km).

Now, the AMG GT would doubtless demolish the LC 500 in terms of performance. But surely, someone buying a tourer is more interested in comfort and usability than all-out performance? That’s what supercars are for.

Anyway, without getting too into it, if you’re shopping at this level, the LC 500 at its current price – it’s the smartest buy. Watch out for that road tax though.

Another reasonable value proposition is the Lexus RX350L. Yes, this too will give you a bit of ‘road tax headache’, but it occupies a seriously niche market. 7 seats, full sized SUV. To be honest, there’s just the XC90 T8 and Audi Q7. The Land Rover Discovery Sport nearly qualifies, but it’s a whole 30cm shorter than these cars.

Again, the Volvo XC90 and the Audi Q7 both have significant performance advantages. These are 2-tonne behemoths that still go from 0-100km/h in about 6 seconds. But just how useful is this power in a 7-seater SUV? The RX L’s 3.5-litre V6 is an relaxed powerplant that delivers buttery smooth performance and soaks up bumps like nothing else. Pricing for the RX L is also rather reasonable considering it’s fully imported. And think about how overbuilt a Toyota V6 is. That thing may cost more in road taxes, but you can run it way beyond the warranty period without worries. That means the cost of long term ownership, though high, is easily calculable. Who knows when a turbocharged, supercharged, hybridised system will start to show faults. Who else but the dealers will be able to fix those problems?

I feel I may be laughed off the face of the world for this recommendation, but here it goes: the Lexus LS. Bear with me.

Over the last 3-4 years, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia and BMW Malaysia have been pushing sales of their hybrid and plug-in hybrid flagship sedans. I don’t have the numbers, but I’m pretty sure this is the best selling generation of flagship sedans they’ve ever officially sold. Back in the day, an S-Class was a rarity. Today, you drive a loop in Midvalley City during lunch hour and you’ll encounter about 20. I mean, the car is still extremely special, top notch, beautiful.

But it’s just not the exclusive club it used to be. And neither is the 7. So, if you’re a CEO and you really want to make a statement, and you have your company accountants ready to throw you a new set of chauffer driven wheels, please go for the LS500.

There are loads of options, and the craftmanship in this generation of LS put everything from Europe to shame. Really, if money is no problem but you still need something special and reliable, the LS is the way to go. It’s a million dollar car in every sense of the word. Oh wait, prices start at RM750K!

What about the rest? Well, to be honest, at just about every other level, a brand new Lexus is a little bit harder to justify. I mean, we could try, but quite honestly, local assembly is what’s missing. If you do appreciate attention to detail and Toyota robustness in a premium package, you can certainly justify the cost of any other Lexus. But here also you have to play against the parallel importers and the used car market.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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