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Peter,

This article in Autoweek may interest you.... sounds like the driving nannies are taking over in the IS.

BMW 330i vs. IS350
http://www.autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060206/FREE/60126002/1012/DoubleTake

It is the two approaches to yaw control that stands out. As we said, BMW's DSC and DTC can be turned off. Lexus' VDIM can also be turned off, but then it magically switches itself back on at around 30 mph, and stays on. You can scramble the computer and cancel VDIM completely via a complicated pedal dance that must be performed every time you start the car, but Lexus doesn't want you to know about that. In fact, Lexus reps swear to us there is no way to circumvent the system.

The IS 350 had hinted it might be a contender. It feels well-balanced and tossable, controllable at the limit and great fun... as long as you keep it under 30 mph. Now how the heck are you supposed to do that? We have never gone through the slalom at anywhere near 30 mph. Even in the most bloated minivan or the most flatulent SUV, we are well over that speed. A car like this should achieve at least 45 mph in our tight, 490-foot slalom.

You cannot do the slalom at 30 and call yourself an enthusiast driver, or even alive and aware of your surroundings. And VDIM is not just a suggestion. It shuts down the whole operation by braking various corner wheels and cutting power to the engine until you are crawling around through the cones like a flopping drunk on the sidewalk. The real tragedy here is that the reason the Lexus doesn't clean the BMW's digital clock is simply because its darn electronics cannot be shut off without going all Norman Bates. After several runs trying to work things out, we had to divorce ourselves from the Lexus based on irreconcilable differences. Any speed over 30, 35 mph, and the car becomes hobbled. Lexus could suddenly find itself winning some of these inevitable comparison tests if it would just reprogram a few algorithms. For whatever reason, it won't.

Lexus brought a knife to a gunfight and still managed to shoot itself in the foot. The 3 Series is indeed the better car.
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