Blog: Dave LeggettLexus IS

Dave Leggett | 14 November 2005

I’m on a trip to Rome tomorrow morning to have a good look at the new Lexus IS. There should be a chance to drive the IS 220d (2.2 litre diesel) and the IS 250 (the 2.5 litre petrol V6). We are also promised some sort of active safety demo at a test track. Lexus may be raising its game in Europe with these new models getting rave reviews, but its sales in Europe compared with North America (around 25,000 a year compared with 300,000 in the US) illustrate the scale of the challenge ahead.

Just how do you get badge-obsessed Europeans out of their BMWs, Audis and Mercs? And I wonder to what extent Lexus and Saab are competing for the same 'I just want to be different' premium brand crowd and how large that group can ever be in Europe?

Anyway, the itinerary tomorrow looks like this: try to wake up at an unearthly hour - aided by super strength coffee - and drive to Stansted airport in time to check-in at 8:00 am; more coffee and in the air by 9:25; lunch on the airplane and land Fuimicino Airport at 13:00 local time (1 hour ahead of GMT); car keys in my hand at 13:30; drive the cars; arrive hotel at 17:00 (assuming on time and I haven't got hopelessly lost); emergency shower (non-negotiable, even if running very late); cocktails 18:30 (cold beer for me); presentations on the cars (probably one from a senior PR person and maybe a high-up from Toyota Europe/Lexus also wheeled out); dinner; drink at the bar (just to be sociable); bed.

I just hope I don’t come across too many crazy Italian drivers. At least we should be in LHD local spec cars as it’s a ‘European press launch’. If it’s a UK media event vehicle manufacturers tend to provide RHD cars at UK spec with the steering wheel on the wrong side, if you are, say, driving in Spain.

FRANKFURT PREVIEW: Lexus to show hybrid GS and diesel IS saloons


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