Lexus LS430 - owned

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Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:06 pm

Ok so I picked the Lexus up at the weekend, so here are some first impressions. It's a 2003 pre-facelift with the Premium Pack.

It's huge. And ugly. In profile it's ok, in a blocky W140 S-Class kinda way, but the boot and rear lights are awkward, and the front is gormless in a fishy sort of way. The antithesis of BMW aggression. The facelift (2004 model) tried to fierce it up a bit, but it didn't really work, although the front lights are very slightly better. Anyway I knew all this of course and decided it was a price worth paying. The exterior is well finished though, with subtle chrome strips and such that make it look a bit upmarket.

Inside it's pretty plush, and anyone who's peered in so far has gone "Oooo" in a that-looks-nice sort of way. And it is. The leather is very soft, the wood isn't quite as garish as it appears in the photos (although the wheel is a bit much), the headlining and carpets are very good quality, and there are a plethora of switches, vents, lights, and buttons to play with. Front occupants get heated and cooled seats, and the driver's adjusts every which way possible, and the passenger's most ways. So it's a bit weird that so far it isn't a particularly comfortable place to sit. Compared to the old E34 with comfort seats it replaced, the seat is too wide and flat so you kinda roll around on it rather than sit in it. Obviously made with corpulent Merkin plutocrats in mind, not bony little ex-goths. In the back passengers get individual heated seats which recline electrically, and have lumbar back massagers. They also get a control panel for the rear aircon, audio controls, a coolbox which can hold a four-pack of beer, an electric rear blind and manual side blinds. Oh and electric headrests too. Legroom is very generous even with the fronts seats set for 6-footers.

The much-vaunted Mark Levinson hifi is very average in actuality. It sounds no better, and possibly worse, than the 15 year-old after-market Sony head unit in the BMW, which is a real disappointment. At volume it craps out on bass-heavy material, the sub and door speakers getting rattly/buzzy. Pah. Tales of subwoofer cones separating from their mounts are legion. They can be repaired or replaced, but it's a ballache. I don't think mine is actually broken though, yet, it's just not very good.

It has a touchscreen satnav which does work, but obviously isn't a patch on modern Garmins and the like. Top-down navigation only, and I presume the map is hugely out of date, although update DVDs are available for a lot more money than a new Garmin would cost. I'll pass on that. Still, it's useful in its limited way.

Most of the climate controls, audio, and other stuff (maintenance records etc) are buried behind the nav touchscreen, which reduces dash clutter a bit but is pretty distracting to use while driving. Familiarity will sort that out I'm sure.

There are a lot of nice little touches, like the way the seat memories includes wing mirror and steering wheel settings, and the way the steering wheel withdraws away to the dash when you turn the ignition off (presumably to help the fat American lift his gut past it as he huffs his way out). The wing mirrors dip down when you select reverse so you can see the kerb/parking bay, which is really useful. It has keyless entry and as you walk up to the car lights under the wing mirrors bathe the ground below the front doors in soft light - very neat. Oh and the central dash aircon vents smoothly oscillate back and forth in use - amusingly pointless.

On the road it really is remarkably refined, up to the legal limit the only real noise apparent is from the tyres, engine and wind noise being all but absent. Kickdown and you can hear a muted howl from the 4.3 V8, which actually sound like it's really enjoying itself being thrashed. And when you do, it shifts. Cruise at 80 and floor the throttle and before you know it 120 appears, all without any drama beyond a shove in the back. It's bloody quick for a huge bus of a thing. And it feels really secure and planted too, whereas the 540 used to feel a bit floaty, and certainly made a lot more noise. Modern aerodynamics for you. Tootling around the transmission shifts are almost imperceptible, and it feels spookily light-footed, responding quickly to the throttle. By comparison the 540 (or mine anyway) felt incredibly lazy and required a committed stab on the pedal to wake the box up and shift down. The Lexus is much, much better in this respect. Which overall makes it feel a lot faster than the 540, even though on paper they are pretty even. The ride is brilliant on the air suspension, and it can be firmed up to a sport mode. The transmission has a 'power' mode too which lets it rev higher before shifting up.

The only disappointment with the way it drives is the steering, which is too light and disconnected from the road. It's not dreadful or even vague - it's actually reasonably direct, unlike the 540 - but a bit more weight would make a world of difference. The 745 I tried before it was infinitely better in this respect. As it is you can pretty much steer it around with 1 finger. Also it does this really weird thing where at parking speeds on full lock it almost feels like it's falling over itself, like badly understeering or something. Almost like the front wheels have turned so far they're 90 degrees to the direction of travel and skidding instead of rolling. Fook knows what that's all about but I don't like it. Avoid full lock seems to be the solution.

Anyway that's about it so far. That reads like there's a lot more negatives than positives, but teething issues with driver's seat comfort aside, and the steering feel, it's really a superb bit of kit overall if you can live with the looks, especially when you consider they can be had for well under £5k. One important thing to add is it's on 83K miles, but it feels and drives like it's brand knew. Not a rattle, squeek, clonk, shimmy, wheeze, or groan anywhere. The E34 on the other hand felt shagged out in comparison on lesser mileage, although admittedly it didn't have a full dealer history like the Lexus.

Interim verdict: Recommend
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Tokyo Sexwale @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:18 pm

Good write up. Somehow, this seemed the most impressive part of the package:

minimoog wrote:One important thing to add is it's on 83K miles, but it feels and drives like it's brand knew. Not a rattle, squeek, clonk, shimmy, wheeze, or groan anywhere.


As I always suspected that these sorts of cars would really feel it.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by thekungfury @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 12:57 pm

What sort of driving do you do Moog? Is it mainly motorway wafting?
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Turntable @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:31 pm

Good write up.

You tested a 745 too did you? Those would be my comparables too.
What made you choose the Lexus?
And MPG?
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:31 pm

TKF wrote:What sort of driving do you do Moog? Is it mainly motorway wafting?


Mostly just wafty commuting, about 2/3 M-way and a 1/3 country/urban.

For shits and giggles I'll get the Frogeye out.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 1:38 pm

Turntable wrote:Good write up.

You tested a 745 too did you? Those would be my comparables too.
What made you choose the Lexus?
And MPG?


The 745 I drove appeared to have incipient transmission bork. And the early (i.e. comparably affordable) ones have a woeful reliability record as far as I can tell. Ditto Mercs of the era. Owners on PH with 745s on the same miles/years are spending thousands a year keeping them right. Cooling systems, suspension, transmissions, all going wrong/wearing out. I can't afford to take that risk on that so it scared me off, even though the 745 is infinitely more desirable. Lexus forums on the other hand abound with owners doing 200K+ miles with nothing but brakes and tyres to attend to. So.

Too early to say on mpg, I've only done about 70 miles in it. Should even out somewhere in the 22-25 range.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by dave_s13 @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 6:45 pm

Nice write up.

I like these but my Mrs would never approve, they are deffo an old man's conveyance.

I've got hydropneumatic suspenders in my citroen c5. It's miles better than springs for our pot hole ridden, speedbump strewn highways.

When it works, pump fcuked itself yesterday.. Merde.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 7:51 pm

Quick addendum. Came home along the dual carriageway tonight and I'm really impressed with how it just surges relentlessly past almost anything when you kick down. Serious overtaking capacity. It's all very hushed and undramatic, which might not suit some, but it's very effective.

Obv owners of XJRs, AMGs, etc will laugh into their rear view mirrors at this, but I'm pretty happy.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Barbarianna @ Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:23 pm

Harks me back to the very similar experience I had with the LS400 a few years back. Mine had a gazillion miles (240k) but nothing, but nothing, broke or shook or looked unready to work. The indifference of the thing was what impressed me.

It was vast, and drove a bit like an American copcar round corners- long overhangs, skinny tyres for the frame, etc and in that way yours sound like they've sorted that out a lot for the 2nd(3rd) gen. The engine made everything else forgivable. You could not doubt its pedigree even through the 142.8 meters of solid soundproofing between you and it; it is the only engine, and a V8 at that, that actually sounded more smooth and unfussed than a BMW 6 cylinder. And it had the balls to lurch the car forward with all the joyful subservience of a japanese servant, pleased at his master's strict demands.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:47 am

Oh joy - engine warning light came on last night.

:sigh:
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Tokyo Sexwale @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 10:54 am

Verdict: a something sensor.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:00 am

Yeah I suspect an O2 sensor. It still drives perfectly.

It can be as trivial as the fuel cap not being on tight, but I've checked that.

Getting my mate's code reader on it tonight.
Last edited by minimoog on Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Tokyo Sexwale @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:03 am

If it's a guessing game, can I guess at a λ sensor please, based on nothing at all.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Damien Thorn @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:07 am

Tokyo Sexwale wrote:If it's a guessing game, can I guess at a λ sensor please, based on nothing at all.

Everything's always a λ sensor! When my clutch broke off: λ sensor. When my exhaust rotted through: λ sensor. When it turned out my wheel was buckled and that's why the tyre kept going down: λ sensor. I don't know why they even make them part of a car, bloody things!
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:27 am

Tokyo Sexwale wrote:If it's a guessing game, can I guess at a λ sensor please, based on nothing at all.


I've already guessed that. Guess again.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by HappyGoLucky @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 11:46 am

minimoog wrote:
Tokyo Sexwale wrote:If it's a guessing game, can I guess at a λ sensor please, based on nothing at all.


I've already guessed that. Guess again.

MAF sensor or crack in the pipe leading to it?
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:08 pm

Verdict: P0155 - O2 Sensor Heater Circuit Malfunction
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Käsemeister @ Wed Dec 03, 2014 7:31 pm

sensorslam
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Barbarianna @ Thu Dec 04, 2014 7:12 am

minimoog wrote:
Tokyo Sexwale wrote:If it's a guessing game, can I guess at a λ sensor please, based on nothing at all.


I've already guessed that. Guess again.


The O2 sensor is the lambda sensor. Moog you boob!
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Thu Dec 04, 2014 10:09 am

Norman D. Cheese wrote:
minimoog wrote:
Tokyo Sexwale wrote:If it's a guessing game, can I guess at a λ sensor please, based on nothing at all.


I've already guessed that. Guess again.


The O2 sensor is the lambda sensor. Moog you boob!


I said O2 sensor first. Then Sexy said λ. Which is the same. And why I said I'd already guessed it so he had to guess again.

YOU boob.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Deuteronomy @ Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:04 pm

minimoog wrote:Verdict: P0155 - O2 Sensor Heater Circuit Malfunction


New lambda then - pretty cheap and usually not too bad to do (unless it's a Cerbera, in which case it's horrible)
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Thu Dec 04, 2014 12:30 pm

Duke Thrust wrote:
minimoog wrote:Verdict: P0155 - O2 Sensor Heater Circuit Malfunction


New lambda then - pretty cheap and usually not too bad to do (unless it's a Cerbera, in which case it's horrible)


Spoke to the dealer this morning. They're going to sort it.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Barbarianna @ Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:24 pm

minimoog wrote:
Norman D. Cheese wrote:
minimoog wrote:
Tokyo Sexwale wrote:If it's a guessing game, can I guess at a λ sensor please, based on nothing at all.


I've already guessed that. Guess again.


The O2 sensor is the lambda sensor. Moog you boob!


I said O2 sensor first. Then Sexy said λ. Which is the same. And why I said I'd already guessed it so he had to guess again.

YOU boob.


Treachery is even more pitiful in plain sight. Oh miniboob...
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:26 pm

Norman D. Cheese wrote:Treachery is even more pitiful in plain sight. Oh miniboob...


Apology accepted.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Barbarianna @ Thu Dec 04, 2014 1:41 pm

<slumps>
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Turntable @ Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:18 am

Can we have a 6-week update on this please?

I oddly crave one of these. I say "odd" because there is almost nothing I like about them and yet I am pretty sure I will buy one at some stage, my need is so strong. What's that all about?
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by minimoog @ Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:40 am

In brief:

Fuel consumption worse than the 540, despite figures suggesting it should, or at least could, be better. Averaging about 21 but think that will fall as there's a few atypical longer journeys in there. On the other hand, the O2 sensor still isn't fixed, which is unlikely to be helping.

Can't get properly comfy in the seats, which is probably the biggest disappointment. Despite the myriad adjustments they lack support and cossetment.

The weird steering still freaks me out. As you approach full lock it's like it passes a detent or something and it pulls itself into full lock and stays there even with your hands off the wheel. You can drive around in a tight circle with your hands behind your head. Bizarre and unnecessary (assuming it's normal and not fooked bushes or summat). If you don't want to drive round in a tight circle with your hands behind your head you have to consciously stop yourself turning the wheel beyond that point where it all goes weird. Pretty hateful. Gonna ask on the Lexus forums whether this is a thing or not.

The control ergonomics are a bit shit. Physical controls are all over the place - it took me ages to find the headlamp washers which are on a switch down by the shift lever - wtf? And some routine things are buried in the satnav/display menus - ventilation fan speed for example. That can get a bit tiresome.

Otherwise it's all good. Still rides and goes beautifully and aside from some tyre noise on some surfaces it really is ridiculously quiet, even at speeds I won't talk about here. Acres of space front and back and a big boot, so very practical.

I by no means love it because of how it looks (a bit like having a ginger child I suppose), but it's mostly very good at what it does.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Turntable @ Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:52 am

Oh. You're putting me off a bit there and I am surprised at fuel economy (although if you are travelling at those sort of speeds perhaps this explains some of it).
Ill ask again in a month and pretend you love everything about it for me please.

On that motorway driving front I did a test on one of my many Christmas break journeys in the XC60.
Steady 60 mph for 20 minutes: 61mpg
Steady 100 mph for 20 minutes: 31 mpg.

Shame.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Käsemeister @ Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:10 pm

That's very impressive TT. Your mpg that is, not your face.
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Re: Lexus LS430 - owned

Post by Turntable @ Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:41 pm

Käsemeister wrote:That's very impressive TT. Your mpg that is, not your face.


Kind of, but it is a bit misleading.
If traffic allows then there is no way I can travel less than 95 mph on a motorway, so effectively my car is a 30 mpg car. Little point it being economical given that my SAAB returns very similar.
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