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Interview

Drive Time

Jenny Hewett takes a spin in the new Lexus IS300 Convertible and chats to Al-Futtaim marketing executive Fahad Shaukat about why it appeals to buyers Do you think this car appeals to a particular demographic? A cabriolet is clearly a lifestyle vehicle, so I think it’s wrong to stereotype it as a young person’s vehicle solely because lots of people want to enjoy an open-top. I don’t think it appeals to one particular nationality and it is popular with young and older couples. It’s a good car for people who want to look great and who want to enjoy life. In the UAE we have the ideal climate to have open-top motoring all day, all year round. The hardtop retracts in 20 seconds, do you have to be stopped? It has the fastest opening and closing time of

20 Ya hala / July 09

any three-part roof. You have to be totally stopped and in park because you have to constantly press the button as a safety feature. If you take your hands off it, the function won’t be completed. The hard-top is designed in such a way that it doesn’t leak and it can be pressure jet washed. It closes very quickly, but smoothly. There’s no clips, it does that all automatically so the windows come up and it’s perfectly sealed. When you’re driving it with the roof up, it’s like driving a normal sedan, with the roof down you’ve got that cabriolet experience. Does the car safely fit a babyseat either in the passenger or back seats?

The backseat of the car is fitted with ISOFIX attachment points, the international standard for attachment points for child safety seats in cars. How many people can comfortably fit in the car? Four, but it does depend how big they are. Can you tell us about any new features the car has that we might not have seen before? It has a Pre-Crash Safety system. This is a safety mechanism and it works in conjunction with the cruise control so that you maintain an appropriate distance between the vehicle in front of you and as soon as the car senses


Interview there’s going to be an imminent collision, it gives you audible and visual signals inside the car. So say you fall asleep at the wheel or something pulls out in front of you in cruise control, it will automatically brake because it’s detecting that you’ve got something in front of you and how far it is away from you. It’s all integrated, the seatbelts automatically tighten up, these ones grab you to a certain extent because they know you’re potentially going to hit something and they prepare you. This works on winding roads and curbs as well, it automatically detects if you are about to drive into something. It has class-leading airbags including knee and side airbags. What about the sound system, does it have iPod capability? Yes, there is an audio jack plug in the centre consol and it has a 12-speaker 365W Mark Levinson Surround System. It gets louder when you go faster with the roof down because when the roof ’s down it gets noisier and it detects that, and will adjust your bass as well. Similarly when the top is open there will be no change in the temperature of the air-conditioning, which is one of the key features.

Fahad Shaukat with the new Lexus

How does the car handle longdistance drives? It’s like driving a sedan, there is no compromise between a sedan and this vehicle. You’re open to the elements as such, but in terms of the rigidity and the handling of the car, you won’t detect you’re any worse off than driving a sedan. How much boot space is there compared to other cars? It is the only car in its class to be able to accommodate a nine-inch wide golf bag with the hard-top stowed and the luggage cover in place. People do know at the end of the day that a sports convertible 2-door doesn’t have a lot of boot space. However, when the roof is up, it’s got a big boot. What colours are available? You’ll find a lot of choices for the exterior and with the interior, you’ve got two-toned leather seats which come in blue and mellow white and silver and mellow white. How much is the car? There is a special launch price and there are two models. The premium plus costs from Dhs190,000 and the luxury model is Dhs205,000. For more details call Al-Futtaim Automotive showroom on 04 206 6600. July 09 / Ya hala 21


Lexus test drive  

Lexus convertible test drive and interview

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