Ark for art’s sake

Weekend getaway turns into a staunch test for car and driver alike

DAVID HASSALL

I REALLY should have known better. Having decided it was time to give the Lexus a gallop out into the country, my timing couldn’t have been worse. Friday evening before a long weekend is hardly the best time to be escaping the rat-race, especially when the weather has been ordered by Noah.

We’re going to the opening of an art show – I’m supporting an artist friend and trying to appear more sophisticated than I really am – but the traffic betrays my uncouth side. Why the hell are people heading for beaches in the middle of winter? Too late, my daughter advises that the traffic is so bad she’s bailed on a cross-town commitment. Smart girl.

Almost two hours inching along a socalled ‘freeway’ – for which we pay a princely sum, begrudgingly – is a test too far for my notorious lack of commuting patience. They’ve blocked a lane to ease the congestion, which simply extends the mayhem further back towards the office.

I invent a few new cusses.

Still, I’m determined to keep calm. We’ve allowed three hours to complete a one-hour drive, so the better half and I kick back to discuss the meaning of life over a packet of snakes in the vain hope I will calmly sit in just one lane. Of course I don’t, but each time I change lane the one I’ve just vacated suddenly gains pace and I’m left steaming inside while trying to maintain some level of dignity in front of the missus. How do people put up with this every day?

But it proves two things: firstly that the Lexus seats are wonderfully comfortable (and the heating function is greatly appreciated in weather like this, as would the cooling in summer); and secondly that you wouldn’t be without a modern automatic transmission.

Manual gearboxes are for dopes. Yes, I’m talking to you Alex, and now that you’ll be travelling daily over the Westgate Bridge, only your Gen Y pride will stop you from agreeing within six months.

Once we clear the Geelong Rd and its saltwater junkies, we point towards Bacchus Marsh and clear the plugs. It’s clear sailing at last and we cover four times the distance in a quarter of the time. The RC200t is in its element now, cruising quietly, squat on the road, lapping up the miles. We step out after two and a half gruelling hours (at the end of a working week) feeling delightfully fresh and ache-free.

We park conspicuously outside the gallery and those sharp lines and front-end bling turn plenty of heads, but there will be no blue ribbons tonight. The Lexus is certainly eye-catching, but it’s no work of art.

LEXUS RC200T F-SPORT

Date acquired: April 2016 Price as tested: $76,500 This month: 1539km @ 10.9L/100km Overall: 2889km @ 11.0L/100km DP T O

Back seat blues

Twice now I’ve had call to use the rear seat for carrying people as opposed to stuff. The first time, I shoved my step-daughter and her lanky fiance through the tiny opening, where he in particular risked permanent neck damage from being jammed under that sloping roofline. The next opportunity was when we took the poor boy’s parents to dinner, but thought better of it and left the $75K Lexus parked forlornly at home while we schlepped it in their homely Korean SUV.

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