You learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your own terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less travelled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drum and stubbornly refuse to fit in.
This was the mentality I had when I drove the all New Lexus RX350 F-Sport to the Northern Cape. Everyone is always driving locally, but they don’t experience the true value of the vehicle when they do not dare to explore the unknown.
After 2500 kilometres of travel, meeting new people, enjoying the scenery but most of all ascertaining the hidden trinkets the Lexus RX 350 F-Sport has to offer is what you can expect to discover during this journey.
The excitement began when I received the news that the Lexus is on the way that faithful Tuesday, my trip to commence on the Wednesday. When the Opulent Blue Lexus arrived I could not wait to get on the road and start driving this beauty, I was like a little boy getting a new toy he has been begging his parents for, for months. Like most adults, the inner child in me started playing around in the Lexus to familiarise myself with the visible and not so visible luxuries it has to offer. The question that begged to be asked was whether the F-Sport indeed has awesome treasures? I was elated every time I discovered a new gem. We start off with the Engine – 3.5L V6 with 221KW. This is pure perfection for the road I had planned. The cabin is beautifully designed around the driver. It feels as if you are sitting in a lounge chair, enveloped in comfortable lavishness. The steering wheel is wonderful and thick. Like most people nowadays, I looked for the wireless charging pod…..This was the first treasure I found, preparing for a ten-hour trip and approximately 1000 kilometres of travel you need those habitual comforts. The second thing I inspected….the sound system…..yes I know it sounds cliché but you need some good tunes and a great entertainment system to keep you on your toes traveling long distances. The Mark Levinson System is phenomenal; a little homage must be paid here:
In 1972, Mark Levinson cracked the code of pure audio playback with hand-built stereo components that overcame every known limitation on sound reproduction. Since then, we’ve created a class of our own by consistently releasing the best sounding, longest-lasting, and most intuitive audio/video components in the world—products that are just as gorgeous as they are meticulously crafted. That’s the level of audio excellence you see in every Mark Levinson component today.
Yes as they say above, Mark Levinson created a sound system that is a force to be reckoned with.
So happy with the Colour, the entertainment system, wireless charging pod and the aggressive F-Sport look it was onwards to the comfort of the seats. We all know how the kidneys can become numb after a number of kilometres travelled. With the bespoke leather seats with electronically adjustable lumbar support…..The game was on and the trip could have started at that exact moment but I had to wait….Sadly.
Wednesday morning, the greatly anticipated day for my adventure to being arrives. Prior to receiving the Lexus RX, I made arrangements with a few luxury lodges and restaurants worthy to showcase this magnificent vehicle to use their location to display its beauty.
I was set to unleash the Lexus RX to the unknown. With everything packed, cameras, Go-Pros, drones, the essentials needed to pay tribute to this beast, I was ready the next morning at 2am. The reason for early departure, I wanted to evaluate the lighting on the Lexus RX, I was not disappointed, and it is superbly designed. Clear white and you can see far in the distance. Recognition must be given to the creative design team. I was driving to make sure I see the sunrise in the Platteland.
Driving on the N1 from Cape Town my one fear I had was the 3.5L V6 Engine this F-Sport is hiding silently, will fuel consumption be an issue as this will be the first question 90% of the people driving or buying this vehicle will ask “wat het jy gekry op fuel consumption”, “how many tanks did you drive to get to Kimberley”. Luckily this Lexus RX is not that heavy on fuel consumption. When I first started I looked at the instrument cluster to see how far I would be able to travel, it showed that I can travel 407 kilometres on a full tank. My first instinct was of pure and utter shock. It meant that I would barely make it to Beaufort West. I decided to travel with constancy, keeping well within the speed limits, as required, the fuel consumption started to drop and average out, keeping the Lexus RX consistently between 10 – 11 litres per 100km.
As I clocked the kilometres and after a few stops I was in Beaufort West. Filling up, stretching the legs a little, proud of the Lexus RX taking me safely through the infamous “kannieDood” road between Laingsburg and Beaufort West, one is always in dire need of a rest and some coffee.
When you leave Beaufort West you have about 70 kilometres before you turn off onto the N12. By that time the sun was slowly starting to creep through the darkness, showcasing the breath-taking landscape around you but more importantly the sun’s rays reflecting on the Opulent blue of the Lexus RX is indescribable, the colour was more accentuated and I fell in love with this beautiful SUV all over again. As I arrived close to Victoria West, I took my first detour “off the beaten path” drive. I stopped at a “padstal” with the most amazing coffee. Who could’ve thought that? Great coffee at a padstal in the middle of nowhere, standing next to a Lexus RX drinking coffee like a boss. I took my first sunrise photographs of the Lexus RX. The Lexus RX did not disappoint, it is as if it was made to pose for the camera, the sun’s rays a tool to accentuate its beauty. The Opulent blue of the Lexus RX will captivate the vilest of critics from kilometres away.
In Victoria West, I had a little delay; everyone wanted pictures of the Lexus RX. Some of the community members came out and took an exorbitant amount of photographs. Who I am I to deny them the beauty of the Lexus RX? After exchanging a few words with the locals and enjoying the smiles on the little children’s faces sitting in the front seat looking “fancy,” I hit the road again.
Now I had to get to Kimberley as I had arranged meetings with different establishments and needed to be on time. As I was still within my timeframe, I stopped for a few photos capturing my journey to the Northern Cape. They say you can capture one specific moment in time on a photograph, if you lose the opportunity, it is an opportunity lost and you will never get it back. Stop and smell the roses or in my case, stop and capture my childhood dream. I wish I could share all the photographs with all of you but I would need to use Dropbox that is how many I took to fulfil my heartfelt dream.
Upon arriving in Kimberley my first stop was to visit old friends before meeting up with the venues. Who wouldn’t use an opportunity like this to showcase such a striking SUV? I had an hour or two to reflect on the comfort of the drive the Lexus RX gave me. You can immediately feel that this SUV was designed specifically for traveling and not be a garage queen. With Lexus upgrading a lot of gadgets, from the suspension, the cabin and the comfortable seats, you really feel refreshed after driving 1020 kilometres. You also have four wheel drive, which is standard on all of the ranges, which means more control and some assurance that the vehicle is safe for long distance travel. When we purchase a family vehicle we always look at the driver’s comfort and the safety of our family. The Lexus RX has this in spades.
For example, to enhance rigidity, greater use has been made of laser screw welding and spot welding (36 additional weld points), together with more extensive application of high-strength adhesives (additional 4.2m of body adhesive) in key areas. A major plus on this SUV.
The diameter of the new rear stabilizer bar has been increased by 1mm or 5.7 percent, while hollow construction reduces its weight by 26.6 percent.
This together with the use of more rigid hubs, results in reduced body roll and improved vehicle posture when cornering as evidenced by more immediate response to steering inputs.
While on the subject of steering, the new Lexus RX’s stability control gains Active Cornering Assist, which automatically suppresses understeer if the driver steps on the throttle in mid-corner. The electric power steering has also been returned for a more linear steering feel and better line-tracing faithful to the driver’s intentions.
Ride quality, which was already class-leading has been made even better thanks to new-design shock absorbers, which is fitted with a friction control device, which further reduces the high-frequency vibrations caused by minor imperfections in the road surface. It uses a rubber lip installed in the shock absorber cylinder to mitigate the aforementioned high-frequency vibration that cannot be controlled with hydraulic pressure alone, improving ride comfort.
Additional dynamic dampers have been installed on the front suspension member, which contributes to isolating the cabin from road vibrations while facilitating flat cornering and exceptional responsiveness.
Leading the changes on the new F Sport variant is further refinement of the adaptive variable suspension (AVS) system – it now operates over a wider range to further enhance comfort and control. First deployed on the Lexus LC flagship coupe, it provides almost constantly variable damping control at each wheel, automatically adjusting through 650 different settings.
The F Sport grades is further distinguished by an even more dynamic character courtesy of new front and rear performance braces between the front radiator supports and front suspension members between the rear hooks.
In terms of engine performance, it’s a case of ‘if it isn’t broke don’t fix it’.
Safety is a defining characteristic of every single Lexus model and the RX is no exception. In addition to the full suite of passive and active safety systems ranging from ten airbags to the latest VSC system with Active Cornering Assist, all RX models now feature a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert. With reference to the latter, a new parking support brake system uses intelligent clearance sonar and rear cross-traffic sensors to avoid or mitigate collisions that commonly occur during parking manoeuvres. In addition to an audible warning, the system can reduce drive force and apply the brakes to reduce the possibility of contact with static objects in the direction of travel, or static objects and moving vehicles when reversing.
But the big news is that the Lexus RX’s Safety System (pre-collision safety system and autonomous emergency braking) is now standardized for F Sport and Hybrid models. The latest version gains night-time pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection with commensurate emergency functionality. Additionally its all-speed active cruise control is now linked with new lane-trace assist.
Quite a mouthful but the Lexus RX is so worth it and the journey has barely begun.
The first stop in Kimberley was The Historic Kimberley Club. Here is a bit of history on the Kimberley Club:
The Kimberley Club was founded in 1881 at the height of the diamond frenzy that gripped the city. The leading businessmen and diamond magnates of the time wanted a meeting place modelled on the famous gentlemen’s clubs of London, where they could seek refuge from the common miners and the heat, dust, and noise of the diamond diggings. There are few social clubs that have had as great an impact on the early colonial history of Southern Africa as the Kimberley Club. Cecil John Rhodes was a founding member and it is said that he sat on the club veranda working on plans to colonize what later became Rhodesia. Another founding member was Dr. Leander Starr Jameson, who used the premises as his planning base for the ill-fated Jameson Raid of 1895 into The Transvaal Republic. The raid contributed to the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. Another colourful early member was Barney Barnato, who walked the 1 000km from Cape Town to the Kimberley diamond fields because he was penniless. He left Kimberley 15 years later, a very wealthy man after selling his diamond-mining business to Rhodes. According to legend, Barnato was initially reluctant to sell, but a deal-clincher was that Rhodes arranged membership for him at the notoriously exclusive club. In 2005 the Kimberley Club and Boutique Hotel became a combination of members’ club and a four-star hotel, as a way to stave off closure due to rising costs and waning memberships. The bar, guest rooms, restaurants, and other historic facilities were thus opened for paying guests to enjoy. For many years the club used the popular 18th-century system of voting in members using black and white balls. White balls were a “yes” and black balls meant “no” (hence the term “blackballed”). If a person applying for membership was blackballed, the members who proposed and seconded his application were expected to resign in disgrace for a year. The wooden “voting case” and the balls can still be seen at the club today, although they are no longer in use.
Arriving in luxury with the Lexus RX, I felt like a young “Barney Barnato” after achieving great success, who arrived penniless but endeavoured to achieve greatness. I received the full VIP treatment. I had a scrumptious dinner at the Kimberley Club. Walking through the doors of the Kimberley Club you instantaneously feel the “old” historic setting with artwork from the 1800’s and cigar rooms close to the bar area. The cigar rooms have comfortable couches where you can sit back, relax and enjoy your favourite cigar with a drink of your choice. You feel like an important businessman who arrived in style. The Kimberley club boasts with wooden floors throughout, friendly staff and delicious food.
My meal consisted of 3 courses, a stuffed mushroom starter, mains was the infamous “The Rhodes fillet”, and a definite must when visiting this establishment and of course let’s not forget dessert. I was a bit greedy and chose two options, a duo of strawberries and vanilla Panacotta and the Chocolate volcano.
Each dish was prepared perfectly and exactly as per my specifications under the leadership of their Executive Chef, Charles Southey. A special thank you to Chef Charles, well-done sir, the food presented to me exceeded my wildest expectations.
Thursday morning arrived and I knew this was going to be a hectic day. It was a rainy day and I had to visit two venues with rain constantly falling. I felt blessed to have the Lexus RX as it definitely lives up to its ability to “challenge everything”. The Lexus RX handled the dirt wet road like a boss, the handling was sublime I felt safe and secure in this luxurious SUV. The four-wheel-drive system is absolutely amazing. Traveling to Hartswater, just an hour’s drive from Kimberley, I headed to a hidden gem called The Venue situated just before you enter Hartswater.
The Venue does not have an historic background as The Kimberley Club, however, this does not take away the fact that The Venue boasts a 4 star accreditation, which itself is a colossal achievement. The Venue is a farm estate in the heart of the Vaalharts district, a mere 10 kilometres from Hartswater. Its tranquil country charm and peaceful surroundings will have you mesmerized upon arrival. Guests are welcomed and encouraged to experience love, life and relaxation. The lush green grass, enchanting garden and rich vegetation makes The Venue a magical place fit for any occasion. There are four venues on the farm namely – Big venue, which can host up to 300 guests and ideal for weddings and large corporate events. The smaller venue can host up to 70 guests. This venue is utilised for smaller intimate functions. The veranda can accommodate 100 guests and the Garden area can easily fit 300 guests. The options at The Venue is endless, with a bit of imagination one can have a fairy tale celebration, large or small.
There is also accommodation available at The Venue. The Venue is comprised of one luxury suite, a honeymoon suite, six standard rooms, and four self-catering units that can accommodate up to 26 guests.
All the units have been individually designed and decorated for a comfortable and carefree stay.
The rooms and suites are equipped with air-conditioning, DSTV and a coffee and tea station while lunch and dinner is available on request.
The Luxury and Honeymoon suites are designed to accommodate a bridal party, especially while preparing for the big day.
Over and above the various venue options and accommodation on offer, The Venue also boasts with well thought trough conference facilities.
Through their fresh and unique approach, The Venue’s team is able to ensure that any event, large or small will be a memorable experience.
The banqueting and front of house staff have years of experience and will provide the best cuisine and faultless service.
Just when you think The Venue does not have any further luxurious offerings they surprise you with a Health and Beauty Spa, which is focused on your well-being through relaxing and fulfilling treatments, The Venue Health & Beauty Spa caters for you, your family or they can offer your business a package deal. Whether you choose a quick treatment, or a full day pamper, you will always leave feeling refreshed, relaxed and calm.
Indulge your senses in the beauty of a tranquil setting while being pampered by the professional therapists. The Health and Beauty Spa is a day spa that provides an assortment of treatments designed for the individual or for group bookings. Other facilities include a nail bar, hair salon, spray tan booth and a private outdoor tranquillity lounge.
Skilled hands and luxurious spa products will make your anxiety and muscle tension melt away. Taking time to relax de-stress and care for yourself is essential in today’s demanding and taxing world. A trip to the Health and Beauty Spa at The Venue is the perfect way to unwind before or after your wedding or function.
Coffee was needed and a visit to Andrews quaint little coffee, which makes the most delicious cappuccinos was in ordr, which is a must when you visit The Venue.
Everything you want is under one roof. With accommodation, a restaurant, Spa and a charming coffee shop you can literally spend your entire day here enjoying the peace and quiet while enjoying the beautiful scenery. During the visit to The Venue, I was able to test the four-wheel capabilities of the Lexus RX in the rain and muddy roads. I can wholeheartedly recommend the Lexus RX as this SUV made it look easy with all the farmers and their 4×4 bakkies on the muddy road.
After our meals and a lot of photos later I headed to Douglas as the next destination was on the outskirts of thereof. You drive past the kamfersdam Flamingo sanctuary; beauty never looked this good with all the Pink Flamingos making for a great scenic route. Enjoying the scenery time flew by too fast.
Unbeknown to me the Lexus RX’s real test was about to start as the Lexus RX had to handle a 10 kilometre muddy gravel road and a further 5 kilometres after you reach the gate of Ultimate Africa. The Lexus RX exceeded every expectation I had as it handles the road as if it was built for it. I was pleasantly surprised that the beautiful Lexus RX made the muddy, gravel road feel like a tar road. There was a slide here and there, I mean you have to test the capabilities to the fullest, but the driving assistance you receive from the Lexus RX is phenomenal. Not getting stuck was definitely a plus.
As I arrived at the well hidden Ultimate Africa Safari lodge you are immediately surrounded by the bushveld and you are completely secluded.
Ultimate Africa is a venue firmly cast in the red soil of the tranquil Northern Cape province of South Africa, Ultimate Africa Hunting Safaris is the essence of a luxury African safari experience.
Located 25 kilometres from the historically rich town of Kimberley, their vast game farm offers visitors absolute and unsurpassed exclusivity and privacy. Bask in the magnificent surroundings while enjoying a hands-on approach to making your stay enjoyable and memorable with a variety of both hunting and non-hunting activities to thrill the entire family.
Their African hunting experiences include options for seasoned and less experienced hunters, with at least nineteen different game species.
While enjoying the adventures of your safari at Ultimate Africa, their team will go to extreme measures to ensure that your stay is as alluring as the expedition itself.
Each of their five tastefully decorated deluxe double en-suite rooms is equipped with a fireplace, Wi-Fi, laundry service and every amenity you would expect to enjoy at a luxury game farm.
This place has a certain magical feel to it. It’s you alone in the bushveld with no people around except your family and friends. Stargazing until the early hours of the morning or as I preferred, spending my time reflecting on the luxuries and challenges overcame by the Lexus RX to bring me to this special place.
We had a traditional BBQ to end off a great day celebrating the greatness of the Lexus RX had to offer especially during the unexpected downpour when its capabilities were truly tested. Believe you me it surpassed my wildest expectations.
The next morning the long road back to Cape Town waited.
The New Lexus RX 350 is a 5-star vehicle. Much more improved much more human-friendly and has the capability to do anything. I was astounded with the technology the new model comes equip with. This specific model retails for R 1 132 000.00 and definitely carries value for the car you are getting. Fully equipped with everything you need.