AUTO INDUSTRY NEWS

Lexus officially arrives in Manila

Lexus officially arrives in Manila image

Text: Jude Morte / Photos: Jude Morte | posted January 23, 2009 00:00

Perfection pursuit comes to the Philippines

In a country chock-full of imperfections, it's great to know that there's a company that relentlessly strives for perfection. No doubt its products strive for a greater good (albeit for the moneyed), but these definitely help towards creating better transportation.

Its motto is "the relentless pursuit of perfection." And it's now officially in Manila.

Perfection starts with a 10,500 square meter dealership at the Fort Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, right near the MC Home Depot area and a stone's throw away from where the former Manila Speedzone karting track was located. With inputs from Nomura Co., Ltd and Casas Architects, the Lexus Manila Inc. (LMI) showroom and service center exudes a seamless transition from glamour (the showroom area) to the nitty-gritty (the airconditioned service bays and the waiting area) and vice-versa. A heavy use of khaki, light brown, dark brown, marble and white permeate the dealership (highlighted further by an indoor courtyard and garden and unconventionally designed furniture), showing a rare mix of Zen-like tranquility and warmth uncommon in auto dealerships. "The architectural and interior designs are great examples of modern works whose end products are regarded highly in terms of aesthetics and functionality. The result is that the place becomes a venue where every customer is treated as if he or she is a personal house guest, a place where the customer will experience a unique kind of luxury defined by the relentless pursuit of perfection," said LMI president Daniel Isla.

But perfection wouldn't matter if the showroom didn't have "perfect" products. LMI decided to enter into the Philippine market five models the LS 460L (P 8.238 million for the four-seater, P 7.268 million for the five-seater), the GS 460 (P 5.238 million), the ES 350 (P3.678 million), the IS 300 (P2.938 million) and the LX 570 full size SUV (P7.218 million).

The flagship LS 460L is perfection personified. Standard features include memory settings for the tilt-telescoping steering adjustment, real wood interior trim, quad-zone climate control, sound-absorbent side glass and power assist adjustment for all seats. But if you want just you, a driver, and two other friends/hangers-on/loved ones/significant others in the back seat, then the four-seater LS 460L offers ottoman chair-type reclining (with power assisted adjustment), seat massagers, a hidden rear table (for the occasional game of poker in traffic), DVD-capable rear in-car entertainment (ICE) and a box to chill that Dom Perignon. The 19-speaker ICE was tuned by Mark Levinson (tuner and maker of quality home audio systems), is Bluetooth capable, and you can start or stop the engine at the push of a button. Moving it forward or backward is a 4.6L 32-valve DOHC VVT-i V8, putting out 342 hp and 455 NM of torque. And for suspension and safety, the LS is a potpourri of safety and suspension alphabet soup, perhaps even better than that of the BMW 7-Series and the Mercedes Benz S-Class.

For those who wish to have premium full-size saloon perfection behind the wheel, there's the GS 460. It utilizes the same engine as its bigger LS 460L sibling, but has a bevy of features that are more driver-centric such as an eight speed sequential a/t, auto dimming for the rear mirror/side mirrors, rear foglamps, dual zone climate control and Adaptive HID for the headlights. The power output is lower than that of the LS-series, but nevertheless impressive 322 hp and 440 NM of torque.

The ES 350 is for those who believe that perfection should have a launchpad, not built from scratch. Based on the Toyota Camry platform, the ES-series is pure comfort. It borrows a number of features from its GS and LS brethren like memory settings for the tilt-telescoping steering adjustment, auto dimming for the rear mirror, a multi-information display, start/stop push button engine technology and a power-assisted sunscreen for the rear glass but is no less luxurious than the two aforementioned saloons. And although the ES 350 totes a 3.5L 24-valve DOHC V6 (with 272 hp and 344 NM of torque), it can move in and out of town easily.

Those who believe that perfection lies in smoking BMW 3-Series, Audi A4s, Mercedes Benz C280s and Volvo S40s off the line and on hard turns will enjoy the IS 300. No longer associated with the Toyota Altezza branding that it once shared, the IS 300 comes into its own as the most athletic (albeit on tarmac only) of the LMI line. The sedan also has features found in the LS, GS and ES brands - like memory settings for the tilt-telescoping steering adjustment, auto dimming for the rear mirror, a multi-information display and start/stop push button engine technology but it also has features geared towards performance driving perfection. A six-speed sequential a/t, three-point seatbelts, and a 3.0L 24-valve DOHC V6 (rated at 228 hp and 300 NM of torque) make sure that it's as fast as it looks.

Then there's those who feel that perfection should be enjoyed anywhere, not just on concrete. That is where the LX 570 comes up and steps up. This land bruiser has most of the features found in its LS-series brother, but has technology that puts other full size premium SUVs to shame like a crawl control system (similar to that found on the Range Rover/Land Rover units), multi-terrain anti-lock braking, four-zone climate control, cameras mounted on the sides of the vehicle's chassis to help the driver cover blind spots and Mark Levinson-tuned surround sound ICE.

With Lexus finally in Manila, the pursuit of perfection for Philippine (luxury) transport got a big upgrade.