Daily Podcast: The IS-F is God's Way of Saying Lexus is Making Too Much Money

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

My wife and I were talking about Tom Cruise the other day. After discussing the diminutive actor's parenting skills and religious beliefs, we came to the somewhat inevitable conclusion that Hollywood's number one Scientologist is as crazy as a loon. In this, he's not alone. At least not in Hollywood. You don't have to read the celebrity gossip mags or watch their TV equivalents to know that Tinsel Town's "elite" have lost all grip on what we outside of their realm commonly refer to as "reality." It's only common sense. Take a group– any group– of good-looking, highly ambitious, ultra-competitive people, give them each a couple of thousand toadies or so and ten or more million dollars, and watch their neuroses bubble to the surface like magma heading for the top of a pre-eruption Mt. St. Helens. Money on that scale still can't buy you love, but it can buy you drug addiction, divorce and up close and personal access to a panoply of mental illnesses. And if these well-loved and lawyered-up people happen to be actors/actresses, they'll be able to hide their insanity from the outside world. Until they can't. I mention all this because I've been searching for a reason why so many carmakers make such boneheaded branding decisions. And I've decided it's because they're cruising along without a care in the world, burning through other people's money as if it were… other people's money. When one of the heavy hitters goes Chapter 11, the resulting chill may cause a change. Then again, maybe not. And how dull would our world be if we couldn't laugh at the foibles of others?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

More by Robert Farago

Join the conversation
4 of 16 comments
  • Thetopdog Thetopdog on Nov 01, 2007

    ajla: There are probably people who have gotten into accidents while looking away from the road because they were trying to adjust their seatbelts while driving. It doesn't mean that wearing a seatbelt is not an unequivocally safer way to drive though KatiePuckrik: If you are trying to equate the pleasure of rowing your own gears with the task of rolling up the windows manually, you're on the wrong site

  • CarnotCycle CarnotCycle on Nov 01, 2007

    There is something I like about manuals that I have not seen in either automatic transmissions or the quasi-autos like DSG setups, and that is the ability to use the engine as a mechanical brake via a clutch. Being able to blip around the gears you want is one thing, but being able to slowly (or quickly) link the motor to the drivetrain is cool. You get to use all the engine's internal friction and inertia as a big mechanical brake to slow the car down, and yet at the same time match engine RPM to the geared RPM of the turning wheels, with no throttle. Only setups with at least a manual clutch let you do that. That braking technique (in combo with regular braking) is so much better in stuff like snow and ice! Plus, when it is throttle-time in those situations the motor is matched up RPM-wise to the rolling speed of the car - you just punch right out if you want. It would be interesting to see a DSG-type setup that lets you manually engage the gear at your own pace instead of you picking the gear and letting IBM do the rest. I know that kind of defeats the point for those things, people seem to hate manual clutches and like manual gear-changes. But I like the manual engagement of the gears, it makes me not a better driver, but gives the attentive driver more options to control the vehicle, whether stopping or going, and I am that kind of driver...its why I read TTAC!

  • Ajla Ajla on Nov 01, 2007

    thetopdog: I agree that there are a ton of things that can distract someone on the road. But, I can also never think of a situation where I've thought, "If I was driving an automatic just now I would have been less safe." The biggest safety argument for manuals seem to be that it forces people away from using cellphones, reading, or eating while driving. And it would. But, my point was that a stick shift won't eliminate every distraction people can fall into, and sometimes it even creates new ones.

  • Melllvar Melllvar on Nov 02, 2007

    Katie, The features you list are ancillary and those I definately want to be as hassle-free as possible. I want to drive, not fiddle with A/C controls (sorry Nemphre, gotta disagree with you on the climate control issue), window cranks, headlight and windshield wiper activation, etc. But there is value in being involved with the actual driving: steering, braking, throttle, clutch, gear selection. To that end, there is rationale in having a manual transmission but automatic/electric everything else. The automatic ancillaries let you spend more time paying attention to the important/fun stuff. That being said I do commute on straight flat roads in moderate-to-heavy traffic so my current ride is the first in years to have an automatic and I don't really miss my stick-shift, though a Dual-Clutch setup would be nice. What I don't have anymore is climate control and I DO miss that.