Monday 20 November 2017

Sporty saloon suits golf-mad rugby star down to a tee

Irish rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll is relishing the prospect of driving the Lexus hybrid this summer, writes Niamh Horan

IF there's one person who doesn't need a luxury car to make a grand entrance, it's Irish rugby captain Brian O'Driscoll.

But Lexus has taken the legendary centre on board to front the latest model for those who don't have that same inbuilt star quality.

The new GS 450h, with its jewel-like headlights and lean physique, was launched last week by the rugby hero to much fanfare at the Ritz Carlton Hotel.

Flown in for a few short hours from Belgium, it gave the car-maker's loyal fans a glimpse of what to expect on Irish roads this summer.

With over 50 pre-orders already on the books, the appetite for the bold new saloon is hotting up.

And O'Driscoll can't wait to get behind the wheel.

Though the 32-year-old player might strike you as the type of guy who likes a bit of growl in his engine, he's keen to take on the hybrid: "I don't see why I wouldn't use the electric side as well. Our traffic situation isn't as bad as it was a few years ago in Dublin. But you're not going to be getting above 50km an hour in and around Dublin so I don't see why you wouldn't use it."

Save, of course, for one small worry -- he doesn't want to get the reputation for honking his fans off the road: "It's funny that [the low noise level] can work against you because when you're driving down the middle of the town and people are walking across the street, they can't hear the car coming up behind them. It still doesn't entitle you to beep them out of the way. I guess I'll just have to be patient."

Despite most of customers in the room being older than O'Driscoll, he's keen to point out that the five-seater saloon fits right in with the younger man's image too.

"I don't see why I wouldn't drive this. I've driven a number of different cars throughout the range, from the fun sporty ISF for a while to the RX which I am in now. So the GS is what I will drive at some stage during the summer. Clubs and all. I think it looks fantastic.

"I love the new front with the lights, the way they have kitted it out.

"I've never been a big petrolhead but I know what I like -- comfort and style and an element of class to the car."

The 19-inch alloy wheels, aggressive F-Sport front-end styling and a discrete rear spoiler all add to its sporty physique, while its spacious interior houses technology that -- wait for it -- releases electrically charged ions into the cabin air, said to be extra beneficial for your skin and hair.

The sooner O'Driscoll gets to take on the GS, the better for his future golfing career, he says:

"I've just taken clubs out of the RX; there was too much of a rattle going on and not enough use.

"But the new model is an improvement on everything that was in the last G -- with enough room for the golf clubs too," says the sports-mad fan whose burning ambition after his rugby career wraps up is "a round of golf on Augusta golf course".

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