LS IS MORE (some text hidden)
By Jonathan Crouch
The ultimate Lexus is this one, the LS luxury saloon. This comes only in LS 500h hybrid form these days and it'll be a rare sight on our roads. Jonathan Crouch takes a look at what's on offer.
Ten Second Reviewword count: 58
With this fifth generation version of its large luxury saloon, the LS, Lexus looks to showcase all it can be. This time round, there's a non-Plug-in hybrid petrol 3.5-litre V6 beneath the bonnet and the option of AWD if you want it. What hasn't changed is that luxury, refinement and sheer attention to detail still get top billing.
Backgroundword count: 214
The Lexus LS. Back in 1989, the launch of the original version of this model redefined what a luxury saloon should be, the engineers behind it tasked to create nothing less than 'the best luxury car in the world'. Few would argue that they succeeded. It seems rather ridiculous now to remember that back then, the European makers who ruled the flagship four-door market sector defined luxury as being as much about wood and leather as it was about ride and refinement. Thanks to this Japanese brand, cars of this kind were finally transformed from boardroom barges to the technological showcases buyers had a right to expect from their inflated price tags. Today, the LS is still a technological showcase, but it isn't the obvious segment choice that it was for a brief period in the early Nineties until the European opposition caught up. The engineers have been working on that though, the result being the fifth generation version we're going to look at here, a boardroom segment full-Luxury saloon that claims to break new ground in design, technology and performance, and extending the boundaries of automotive luxury. That's quite a claim when other rivals in this segment include contenders as accomplished as the Mercedes S-Class, the BMW 7 Series and the Audi A8.
Driving Experienceword count: 204
Only one engine is offered, the normally aspirated 3.5-litre petrol V6 fitted to the single LS500h model, which puts out 295bhp but is boosted by a hybrid system to produce a 'total system output' of 354bhp. This package powers the rear wheels in most models which are suspended at each corner by multi-link suspension units. There's also an AWD version available for those wanting it. In other markets, this powerplant comes fitted with twin turbochargers; unfortunately, we don't get that version here, which means that the engine has quite a job on shifting nearly 2.5-tonnes of Oriental real estate. Still, 62mph from rest is dispatched on just 5.4s in the rear-driven variants, en route to a top speed that as usual in cars of this kind is artificially restricted at 155mph. As for handling, well the LS has, to be frank, never previously been a very rewarding thing to drive, something that historically hasn't mattered to the core customer base of lazy Americans and retired Europeans. But Lexus needs to reach out beyond these people, particularly in the British market. Has it done so here? Not really, though buyers do get a 'Drive Mode Select' system that sharpens steering feel and reduces body roll.
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Category: Luxury Saloons and Estates
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