Brendan is a very easygoing and down-to-earth owner of a remarkable Lexus.
This whole time, I had doubted that the IS 250, a Corolla chassis featuring extra bells and whistles fitted with a Camry engine, would ever be worth a mention to the Germans who absolutely own this upscale mid-sized segment. In reality though...
... the car speaks volumes for itself. It tackles a largely German-dominated market with all-out famous Toyota-grade reliability. The suspension is so soft and supple that I'm wondering if the car is riding on variable-controlled self-adjusting shock absorbers (ahem, air suspension). Literally, I often felt that I'm floating over on-board a massive yacht belonging to a pathological oligarch who has paid enough attention to honing out the slightest of rifts and rafts bumping along. Big kudos to Lexus for taking what is essentially a Corolla chassis underneath the IS platform and redeploying it in such an overclocked way so as to not only make the car stiffer around corners, but also unbelievably comfortable throughout a lengthy journey. Totally reworked. There may not be the same amount of road info or immersive interaction of feel from the chassis in your feet, hands, and the small of your back as compared with the German saloons, but it is utterly pristine in desirable extravagance. Bonus points go out to the ventilated seats, which... by the way... work differently than the system in Porsche cars. While Porsche's system is implemented and tweaked in a more clever manner, the Lexus way feels chiller. Rather than using contracting suction to take moisture and humidity away from the seat and backrest, it blows cool air through the tiny holes found throughout the leather perforation, in much the same way that heated seats blow warm air outwards.
The sound system, as well, is noteworthy. This isn't the world-renowned Mark Levinson that is feather-plucked and flexed by the brand today, but it doesn't do the focal bits justice to simply be mislabeled as "standard," as if it were some dumbed-down rendition of a premium. Oh no, not at all... for this is a really creamy audio experience. The bass is tuned towards the more crisp and tight end, as preferred by audiophiles, rather than muddy, unrefined choppiness (for the club rockers out there). Mids are the highlight of the show thanks to the quiet cabin, as they become accentuated throughout the frequency range with musicality of profound harmonics. Add in the not-so-overpowering and sparkly, fun highs and the system comes alive and feels right at home. If this is really this good, then the Mark Levinson, with all the praise it receives, must be astronomical in quality. I use Burmester in a Pamamera for reference since they have shown to be the best sounding factory sound experience from any manufacturer.
Brendan's car is a beautifully glossy, deep and rich black in its exterior stance. The sunroof brings even more light into the cabin and makes for a pleasant pseudo "open-top" driving experience, if you're fine with calling it that. Burl walnut wood trim and pebble tan on dark grey dashboard overhangs the interior to make the car ooze with luscious luxury. Highly presentable in a classy impression and astonishingly sensational. The shape and structural design of the dashboard paneling are classic Lexus affair, and so is the steering wheel, which is finely-spoked and has well-placed stalks with the wheel's rim on the thin side and its position fairly adjustable.
Drivetrain can be easily concluded as much more plush-oriented than sporty. Lexus shouldn't be fooling anyone by the race-heritage oomph façade that could be seen as an ode to spirited driving. I am of course referring to the large, brushed aluminum paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Although the gearbox, or rather... slushbox, is comfort-retrained and sluggish per se, it's honed to fetch new tricks in Power mode with the manual setting activated by the lever. The engine is not too shabby either. Yes, it doesn't have the same exhaust-based, falsely-tuned and cabin-inducted, high-pitched variance of some other six-cylinder motors found across Japanese productions (ahem... yes, that means you Nissan / Infiniti), but the Camry V6 in this IS 250 has its fair share of presence should there be a need for passing or overtaking. And thankfully for Toyota's efficiency-driven attitude towards MPG this and MPG that, with mindful and tranquil driving, the Lexus does not come short of impressing, often returning close to 36 MPG in freeway commutes from Santa Monica to Orange County. Okay, well done, Lex, well done. *Applaudes*
So... at the end of the day, we have a rather good car in a very decent trim package for what it offers. Yet perhaps it's the long extra mile taken by the owner that confines an even greater difference. Brendan was extremely lenient with my scheduling conflicts and it was an absolute pleasure to work with him. I know that I won't second-guess or ever doubt in hesitation to rent from him in the near future. I am, indeed, thankful.