Isn’t life full of surprises?
You were expecting some road tests of 520kW US-made metal (and carbon fibre) along the Big Sur highway (currently skinnier than a normal highway due to rockslides) and in a fear and trembling search of the heart of the American dream on the interstate to Las Vegas in the Hertz-Hendrick Camaro SS, but no.
First up we drive a friend’s Toyota Rav 4 (with upgraded LED front fog lights – $38k if you can get one before 2024) cunningly disguised as a Lexus NX (about $70k, but wait for the 2022 model) the 922km from Sydney, Australia to Wagga Wagga (so good they named it twice) and back. As you’ll see soon, there’s more than one reason for this test.
The Lexus UX and NX have copped lots of snide comments because they share some stuff with the RAV 4 and all three are cars you and I would never buy for ourselves unless we could take a vehicle when we check into the local home of peace. And the Hume Highway is the most boring piece of road in the known world. How boring?
Well, the highlight is risking your life to pull right across the highway to Snake Gully (8.04km from Gundagai) where Lucy, the Dog on the Tuckerbox historical monument, tourist attraction, cafe, gift shop and toilets await. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Gundagai Main Street Art & Stories Committee arranged for 90-year-old Lucy to have three bronze pups, which are adorning, well, the main street (Sheridan St) of the charming, historic medium-sized country town set at the foot of Mt Parnassus above the Murrumbidgee floodplains. The pups will assume a variety of poses reflective of the unique and medium-sized rural community. Note to self: idea for Adelaide here.
But forget the naysayers. If you are going to drive 461km one way, forget Lucy and stop at the Wagga Boat Club for a meal at what must be this country’s last remaining Chinese-Australian Restaurant, the Crystal, before you turn around and repeat (the drive, not the food). Now before you email the boss accusing me of some form of woke racism, can I tell you the food at the Crystal is not only seriously good, it takes you back to a time when there were 100 items on the menu, including 15 kinds of fried rice, nine kinds of omelette, eight kinds of Australian meals and – get ready to salivate – dishes like: sweet and sour pork ($18.80); honey chicken ($17.80) and chicken chow mein ($17.80).
The Lexus NX is exactly the right kind of car for this trip and for the persons who love long leisurely highway drives. It’s got every safety device ever considered, including hands-free driving (against the law and you can only do it until the Lexus realises your hands have left the wheel), a pre-collision safety system to detect persons on motorbikes and similar potentially dangerous situations, a thing to stop you running up the back of the car in front, and it’s one of the safest cars ever in US crash tests. The ride can occasionally be a bit harsh, but overall it’s a dream to drive.
What’s better is Lexus service.
Every car manufacturer and dealer tell you “we provide the care and expert service that our guests come to trust”, or “we’re committed to delivering outstanding levels of customer service and supporting you through your ownership cycle”. Don’t believe it. Only Lexus delivers.
Here’s what the Honourable David John O’Callaghan, a judge in the Federal Court of Australia, a Green Bay Packer fan and probably Australia’s most knowledgeable trade practices lawyer, had to say about Mazda, owner of one of our post popular car brands.
And then our own Dom Tripolone, motoring writer for news.com.au (part of our global metaverse), tells us that BMW and Porsche are resisting the move to five-year warranties. “Pressure is building on a handful of luxury brands to extend their below-par new-car warranties after Audi announced it was lifting its warranty coverage to the accepted industry standard of five-year/unlimited kilometres. Some of the country’s most desirable luxury cars are being sold with below-par ownership features, despite commanding huge prices,” Dom says.
“Audi’s move now leaves BMW and Porsche as the only major luxury car brands short-changing buyers with a three-year warranty period. Top-end marques such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin have also persisted with three-year guarantees, while Tesla’s coverage is four years.” Lexus is four years.
I can guarantee no warranty but great service on the red (of course) V-12 1950 Ferrari 166MM Le Mans Berlinetta at Tom Hartley Jr’s exclusive classic car palace just nine miles from Grace Dieu Priory, Belton, Coalville. One of five and last sold by Dave Gooding for $3m in 2008 at Pebble Beach, this is not only the Mona Lisa of metal, it’s important. Enzo Feezer had just opened for business two years earlier, launching a 166MM Barchetta at the Turin Motor Show. This car has had a heap of serious owners, including Road & Track’s John Bond and one of the world’s greatest car collectors, Japanese-born Hong Kong resident, American Chip Connor, who sent it to the UK for a four-year restoration. In 2016, Gooding sold the blue ex-Briggs Cunningham Berlinetta with racing history for $9m.