Why the Lexus might be my final petrol car

The economy of the Lexus really doesn’t matter. Well, ok. I’ll qualify that. The economy of any car should not be the main focus. If I believe the hype, I’d buy some modern thing that claims to do 75mpg and surely be quids in, only I wouldn’t be, because I’d probably be paying what the Lexus effectively cost to buy every two months just to own it. It’d also probably be a diesel, and they’re horrible. Especially modern ones.

e-Golf

Lexus may be smooth, but it’s not Volkswagen e-Golf smooth.

I think the XM was a turning point for me. I got so fed up with the horrible diesel soundtrack that I swore I’d never own another. Which is why, a few months later, I bought an Omega turbo diesel. Yeah, ok. I don’t always get it right. That car really was the nail in the coffin for diesel on my driveway. I’ve decided that petrol engines just sound nicer, drink fuel which isn’t half so disgusting to the nose and rev in ways diesels just will not.

But, I like low-down dirty grunt, which petrols aren’t great at – unless they’ve got capacity on their side. V8s are especially good at torque, so while I didn’t really set out to swap the Bluebird for a Lexus, an LS400 has been very much on my wish list for a while now. It’s been far too long since I owned a V8 (early 2011 when I sold my last), and while economy springs to mind for a lot of people, I bet it’ll still be considerably better than my Land Rover 90 V8. That managed to barely have any power and drink fuel at an alarming 15mpg no matter how I drove it. The 120 odd miles I’ve done in the Lexus so far have proved that it is nowhere near that thirsty.

It will be if I enjoy the revs, but so far, extending the slightly-louder pedal in the Lexus has only revealed that it makes the scenery blur worryingly quickly, and suddenly you feel like you’re trying to thread a needle with a jump lead. This much bulk shouldn’t be travelling this quickly on a Welsh B road. So, it’s not difficult to just sit back and enjoy the torque, which allows you to travel decently quickly at no more than 2000rpm. That effortless torque is what I really want.

Which is why I love electric cars, because if there is anything an electric motor does really well, it’s effortless torque. Frankly, a Volkswagen e-Golf makes even a Lexus seem hard work, because as quick as the Lexus can be when it’s in the sweet spot, there’s still a lag while the gearbox works out how to get it there. Internal combustion engines have peak power and torque in one place. Well, actually, the two are often in different places, and you need several gears to try and keep them between the two if you want to get a shift on. An electric motor just accelerates, and it’s lovely. It is, as the lady from Tesla UK once told me, like the best automatic gearbox in the world. Those who’ve followed me for a while know that I’ve been utterly won over by electric for some time now, and it’s only cost that prevents me from buying an EV myself. Silly isn’t it? I can buy a £50,000 luxury car with all the bells and whistles (and 260bhp) for under a grand, but the cheapest electric cars (that you’d actually want to own) are three times that – at least.

Could this be the future of the HubNut fleet? Possibly. In about 20 years time…

But, having spent several grand on the 2CV, and a huge chunk of cash on the Bluebird more recently, it has occurred to me that it wouldn’t be that hard to save up and buy an EV, maybe next year. Well, I’m not giving up on petrol without enjoying myself first! So, a Lexus it is.

I don’t want an electric car to be green, though that is part of the appeal. I don’t want one to be cool either, because I don’t really understand the concept. Nor do I want one so I can have priority parking at Ikea – I’d rather wear chilli powder contact lenses than go to a huge shop that traps you in a one-way system.

No, the biggest reason I want an electric car is the way they drive. Modern petrol and diesel cars leave me utterly, utterly cold. Electricity excites me. For a start, there’s the ability to generate electricity every time you slow down. Once you’ve experienced this, conventional brakes feel utterly, utterly wasteful. They just make heat! Plus, there’s the efficiency gains. Internal combustion engines also mostly create heat. Less than half of the energy you put in is turned into forward motion.

But really, it’s that seamless power delivery that truly gets me. No turbo lag, no transmission-making-its-mind-up time, no waiting for the engine to hit its sweet spot – just instant, delicious torque.

I wonder how hard it is to convert a Lexus LS400?

7 thoughts on “Why the Lexus might be my final petrol car

  1. A man after my own heart.
    I too love electric cars. But I won’t be getting one anytime soon.. Not unless there’s sizable lottery win around the corner..
    I watch YouTube vids of people converting their own cars to elwctric. Which I think is a great idea. Especially classic cars. That’s the way to go for me.
    Do you watch “Fully Charged” by any chance.? Just been watching the latest vid of the elevtric “E” Type jaguar.
    Now that’s the dogs b*ll*cks 🙂
    No doubt it will cost a fortune if it goes on sale but wow, what a car…
    Other car manufacturers are missing a trick here. Jaguar really are onto something with this.

    • Yes, I do watch Fully Charged. Like them, I’ve driven the red Beetle converted by Electric Classic Cars. I liked it a great deal.

  2. A couple of months ago we bought a used, pure electric BMW i3 and it was a complete revelation after 25 yrs of driving mainly diesels. The torque, lack of noise, regenerative braking and handling make it very enjoyable to drive.

    I live in London so the limited range of the i3 isn’t a problem and with the cheap parking for EVs no congestion charge it makes complete sense, but i am sure these benefits will disaper with more EVs on the streets, but for now it is great.

    My other cars on the road are a 05 Skoda Octavia tdi which is now only for long distance trips and load lugging. I have an 928GT which i love, it can cost a fortune to service, drinks quite a lot of fuel produces vast amounts of heat but is fantastic, giving huge amounts of feedback from engine, gearbox, steering in a way the i3 can’t. I wont be getting rid of it but down the line i can see the cost servicing and taxation will make conversion to electric inevitable.

  3. Sir, a little fan-like behaviour. Driving home through Caersws level crossing I saw a LS400 and a mighty beard today. I would have waved from the controls of my Zoe but it was a tad windy.

      • Alas, my silver Zoe is currently brown from exploring south Wales so was camouflaged somewhat. There are certainly more of us silent ones around these days. If only Lidl Welshpool had a charger as some others do I wouldn’t have had to stop at Powys Castle and eat cake!

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