New Year resolution

Lexus LS 460

Most doctors have spent quite a lot of time in operating theatre tea rooms especially since workplace health and safety regulations have banned smoking there.

In a cappuccino world the theatre coffee may be only of the instant variety, but the tea room is still the best place in the hospital to share the camaraderie, to tell a joke and to complain about bureaucracy.

A semi-retired surgeon who keeps his hand in by assisting burst into my tea room last week in a state of some excitement.

No, he hadn’t won gold lotto. He’d just had a phone call from the HIC.

Seems that he was applying for a new provider number after 40 years of practice and they’d rung him up because he hadn’t filled the form out properly.

You see he hadn’t put the date that his citizenship had been granted on the paperwork.

As Australia has an International medical workforce we’d all realize that that the HIC may have a legitimate interest in this particular detail and without the aforementioned citizenship date there was no way to process his application.

But in spite of his ample surgical skills and decision-making ability my colleague just couldn’t decide what to put down on the form as he thought he’d probably never technically been “granted” citizenship because he’d actually been born here.

Though I saw the form which had been faxed to him with my own eyes my search of the HIC web site showed me that the form no longer exists in an electronic format.

Or maybe the faxed form is kept for technologically illiterate semi-retired surgeons who need to be reminded of why they should play more golf and think about retiring.

You see with 2008 upon us my New Year’s resolution is to spend less time on useless paperwork and more time doing my job.

You may well ask what this all has to do with a road test of the Lexus LS460?

My point is that everything that Lexus does just seems to work with a minimum of fuss and I think that their engineers should re-design the health system and re-build it like a Lexus.

The greatest strength of the Lexus is that they’ve crammed an enormous amount of gadgetry into a car that’s still simple to drive.

Jump in the front seat and you don’t need to worry about slamming the door shut as all four doors are self-closing.

Inside there’s more leather than I’ve ever seen in a car and it’s the real stuff (not like those Germans who ask you to pay more for the natural product).

The seats (all of them) are heated and cooled and the driver’s seat adjusts in 12 different directions.

There’s a radio and a steering wheel just like most other cars, but changing the radio station is done very simply with a button like a normal car and not with an i-drive knob and the need for a tutorial.

The steering wheel is also heated which just suits my arthritic fingers.

And the Lexus has that fantastic active cruise control which keeps you a safe distance from the cars ahead and which will apply the brakes if the Lexus thinks that you’re about to crash into something.

All of this happens with a minimum of driver input and even technophobes will quickly learn how these things work.

The sound system is the finest I’ve ever seen and is best appreciated from the rear seat with the DVD playing the Blue Room scene from Jet Li’s “Hero”.

I was ducking for cover whilst being attacked by a sword and enjoying the comfort of the reclining air conditioned seats and the chiller box.

There are neat little screens that darken the cinema in the back though the size of the motorized rear DVD screen does obstruct the driver’s rear view when the car is driven in cinema mode.

On the performance front there are 280 kW from the high-tech V8 which has two injectors on each cylinder. Performance and fuel economy are said to be enhanced by this technology and 25 mpg from a car weighing nearly two tonnes is very commendable.

The LS460 is also the first car in the world with an eight speed automatic gearbox.

Eight is a lucky number for the Japanese and my partner pointed out that the car was so well balanced because there was one gear for every cylinder.

Though there may not be a propeller or a star on the bonnet the Lexus does come with 13 coats of paint, real leather, a decent warranty and there’s no need for a tutorial to learn how things work.

There are no expensive surprises in the options department because everything is standard (ie there are no options).

It may lack snob-value, but it outperforms the Germans in quality, reliability and customer satisfaction and everything is where it should be with the indicator stalk on the right side where it belongs.

And whilst I’ll never be able to afford one, that won’t stop me wanting one.

Safe motoring,
Dr Clive Fraser

For: Absolutely everything that opens and shuts.

Against: Rear vision is obstructed when the cinema is operational and it’s soon to be gazumped by the LS 600h.

This car would suit: Anyone with a spare $185K.

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    Medical Motoring is an online record of the articles written by Dr Clive Fraser and published in the Australian Medicine magazine by the Australian Medical Association.