To buy one of these you’d need rocks in your head…

Posted on February 26th, 2006 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

Palaeontologist Richard Fortey makes the point that the apparent inevitability of the demise of the dinosaurs is a purely retrospective analysis – there was nothing in their evolution that predestined them for death. So to use the word dinosaur to portray outdatedness is to completely misread history.

Sorry Richard, but I can find no better term to express it: the Lexus IS200 is a dinosaur. There may not be a single cataclysmic event that will end its tenure on Earth, but its evolutionary path is finished… if it ever existed.

It’s been a while since I drove an IS200 (see New Car Test – Lexus IS200 Limited Edition) and in the five years since, my memory had dimmed a little. But getting back into the car – this one an auto trans Sports Luxury model – brought it all back. In spades. On nearly all criteria of judgement, this is a pitiful car. Why anyone would be willing to hand over the AUD$57,900 (plus ORC!) is completely beyond me. So, on what criteria, then?

Well, take interior space. All cars have to carry things around – they provide transport of goods and people. The IS200 might have four doors, but the rears may as well be welded shut. In the back there’s barely space for a small child – and no way could any normally-sized adult fit in there. And things aren’t much better up front. I’m average in height but my head was brushing the underside of the sunroof cover… with the seat at its lowest position. With the wide rear-wheel drive transmission tunnel gobbling cabin space, there’s no room for the left driver’s leg and the door is close and its sill high. Nearly any other small car on the road has more interior space – or more that is usable, anyway. Try a Honda Jazz, a Mazda 2, a Barina… the list goes on.

OK, so the space utilisation is a design lesson in how not to do it. What about performance? Ahhh, performance…..well, this car doesn’t have any.

A new GTR…

Posted on February 12th, 2006 in Opinion by Julian Edgar

A few weeks ago I bought a GTR. A long time ago – what today seems a very long time ago – I owned a Nissan Skyline GTR, but this new one is very different. How different? Well, for starters, it has only three wheels. And a maximum power output of about 0.2kW. I haven’t measured it, but I understand most fairly unfit people can furnish about 200 watts continuously….

Yes, that’s right, this GTR is powered by pedals.

So how the hell did I come to buy a pedal tricycle? A return to childhood while in the clutches of early senility, perhaps? Well, it all actually started on a photo-shoot for AutoSpeed. In Sydney and Melbourne and Brisbane and Adelaide we have favourite photo locations; places to which we can take a car to make the photos for AutoSpeed articles. One of the locations is in Knoxfield, a suburb of Melbourne. Over the years we must have photographed a dozen cars there.

And during one of those shoots I’d noticed a nearby factory unit. Along with the name ‘Greenspeed’, it had a sign above the doorway showing what I thought was a recumbent bicycle – the sort where the pedals are way out in front and the seat is close to the ground. Having always been interested in bikes, I put away a casual thought: Must go in there some time. Lots of time passed then I was again in the area – this time with 30 minutes to spare. I parked out the front, knocked on the door and went in. I had no idea what to expect, and so when instead of seeing a bicycle I saw a tricycle, I wasn’t too startled.

From the sign I knew it was all gonna be weird…