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Really, the worst car in the world?

Ah the Lexus SC430. Bit of a marmite and mustard model. Love or loathe it, that V8 has some kick.

Agin it, those Radio Norwich overtones and badge engineering at its blatant worst, (or best). Who admits to spending silly money on a Toyota? Oh, I forgot, Aston Martin Cygnet owners. Then there’s that ‘French Riveria’ design. Add a loofah to a white one and with that high beltline it’s more a swanky Torquay bathtub.

Then again, that styling is different, and different is good.  The sat nav waits behind a damped wooden door, just like the reproduction cabinet your posh relations put their TV behind. Those aren’t cupholders, they’re for M&S marshmallow teacakes in gold and purple wrappers, (lockdown messes with your mind). It’s over engineered like Mercs used to be before they went all American. Possibly showy and superficial yes, vulgar no.

Tastes do change as you get older. I never liked Oasis, (sorry), but now I think Noels High Flying Birds are the dogs undercarriages. And the SC430 can grow on you.

I bought one head over heart as a convertible hire car, but surely between a Lexus or Jaguar, you’d take the Jag right? In New Zealand though, Lexus has the big cats licked. It’s more popular on our rental fleet than our XK8 and despite a 70 year head start, Lex-i outnumber Jags threefold on the second-hand market here, though production values might be behind that.

It really impressed driving from Christchurch to Queenstown recently. The initially tediously flat views transform as the vast snow white Southern Alps loom. And then you get to drive over them. OK so the front wheels needed several minutes notice from the steering of impending sharp twisties, but it sailed swiftly through longer, banked corners and smoothly creamed expansive straights. And none of my body parts noticed the huge km its body parts were clocking.

This is the actual SC430 on the RentAClassic fleet, credit PhotoCar

The thermal city of Beppu in Japan has a hot tub theme park apparently. Kiwis like their hot tubs too. Indeed, bathing in natural hot springs in gentle soft rain, beneath panoramic, moonlit vistas of snow-capped mountains is one of life’s serious pleasures, it’s just so relaaaaaxing. Maybe that’s why both countries get the SC430 convertible.

Is it a classic? Being Lexus’s first convertible, both loved and reviled hint it could be. Shipping with a cassette tape deck in 2010 means it already was then. A tacky white suited Richard Clayderman C60 it’s not, but the guilty pleasure Carpenters slightly soporific soaring harmonies, slot in sumptuously.

And with nearly 300hp of V8 on tap for occupants of this interplanetary craft to call on, maybe it’s quite a cool hot tub after all.

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