Lexus Test Drive—The LS600h F SPORT

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The new CEO of Pernod Ricard Japan takes a spin through the heart of the city in Lexus’s flagship sedan.


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Tim Paech, CEO of Pernod Ricard Japan, is a man who is clear about what he likes, and what he doesn’t like. A globetrotting, 25-year career with one of the world’s largest spirits and wine groups has taken Paech from his native Australia to France, the US, Taiwan, and several months ago, Tokyo, and is probably one of the factors behind his unique sense of style—he has already been interviewed and featured in a Japanese men’s magazine spread on executive fashion. So, whether Paech is helping to fine-tune the launch of a new product, or choosing the vehicle that will get him from one point to another, high quality and attention to detail are always on his mind.

Since arriving in Japan, he’s been behind the wheel of a bulky SUV, so when we asked him whether he was interested in taking the Lexus LS600h F SPORT for a spin, he was keen to give it a try. He’d owned several luxury European cars in the past, but over the course of his business experience in Japan and a few months in country, he’d grown familiar with the dedication to detail that is one of the hallmarks of Japanese culture, and was looking forward to the experience of driving a car that grew out of this tradition of fastidious craftsmanship.

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The golden leaves of the ginkgo trees in Jingu Gaien had mostly fallen from the trees on the cool, clear December morning when Paech got behind the wheel of the F SPORT and closed the driver’s side door. Bringing the 445 horses of the powerunit to life with the touch of a button, he pulled out into traffic and headed out on a long loop towards Roppongi Crossing. After taking several turns through light traffic in the whisper-quiet interior of the sedan, several things became quite clear: “You’ve got a lot of space, and you feel like you’ve got a bit of status on the road. It’s got a tremendous amount of power—the steering wheel feels tight and responsive—but the car has a soft feeling at the same time, and it’s very comfortable. It really floats: I just feel like I’m gliding along.”

As impressive as the overall feeling of the car was, Paech also remarked on the wealth of small details that made the test drive stand out all the more, such as the fine stitching on the enveloping bucket seats and wood accents around the carefully designed instrument panel: “The small luxury details are wonderful.” Occasional stops at a few locations—including a park in Midtown and the city’s iconic Tokyo Tower—gave Paech the chance to feel another one of the car’s features in action. After he had first adjusted the seat and steering wheel to the best position the first time, the car would remember him on return: “When I sat down and buckled up, everything moved into driving position, waiting for me to start the car.”

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Towards the end of the test drive, en route to INTERSECT BY LEXUS in Aoyama, Paech realized that he had been driving in the car’s gas-sipping “Eco” mode the entire time. Looking to put the V8 engine to the test, he shifted into to the high-performance Sport mode, and the F SPORT’s handling became tighter and the acceleration more aggressive. Driving in this mode might not be as fuel efficient, but it makes for a completely different driving experience, and as Paech pulled in front of Intersect, he said that he was ready to give the F SPORT another hour’s worth of road time.

Away from the driving seat, Paech reflected on the factors that have always stood out for him when Japanese products come to mind: “Quality and attention to detail. It’s something that we see in our business: people are fastidious about product quality and packaging. It’s one of the things that separates Japan from other countries, and it’s one of the things that makes Japan special . . . the combination of those small details are part of what makes this car such a pleasure to drive. It’s everything that I expected it to be from a luxury and quality perspective.”

We checked in with Tim Paech a few days afterwards to see if he was planning on going for another test drive. No need, he said. He was already waiting for the Lexus that he had ordered.

Focus on the Lexus LS600h F SPORT

Supercar performance meets luxury refinement in the Sport version of this Lexus sedan.

The Lexus LS600h F SPORT is the perfect combination of power, performance, and innovative engineering. The high-performance, 445-horsepower powerunit and responsive yet smooth handling offers an exhilarating driving experience in town or on the highway. Complementing the aggressive, sporty exterior, the F SPORT’s spacious interior comes complete with an array of luxury appointments, making the car your personal automotive oasis.

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In all seasons and all road conditions, the all-wheel drive provides a feeling of total control in any driving situation. Meanwhile, a range of performance and power modes makes it possible to shift from fuel-efficient “Eco” to high-performance “Sport” with the twist of a knob, and the eight-speed paddle shift manual mode puts the full power of the F SPORT at your fingertips.

However, many find the ride of Lexus’s flagship sedan so smooth, and the interior so quiet, they forget just how much power there is under the hood. Bold styling, innovatively designed instrument panels and navigation systems have been created with driving efficiency and ease in mind, and available four-zone climate control automatically adjusts to ensure that all passengers are comfortable at all times. Small details, such as a 16-way adjustable driver’s seat that can be set to remember three different drivers, are a constant reminder that the carmaker never stops thinking about how to make the driving experience more fulfilling.


The Lexus Experience in Tokyo

INTERSECT BY LEXUS
Lexus’s “lifestyle showroom,” INTERSECT is located in the stylish Aoyama District. The multi-level facility houses a café and a dining/lounge space that lets guests experience Lexus design in a informal, laid-back setting.

Lexus International Gallery Aoyama
To see some of Lexus’s latest models first-hand, drop in at the Lexus International Gallery Aoyama. Their English-speaking concierge staff is on hand to consult with guests about any question, in a sales-free environment where there is no pressure to buy.

To find out more about getting behind the wheel of the LS600h F SPORT, or any of Lexus’s other models, visit http://lexus.jp/international/

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