Unbelievably, three decades have passed since the Lexus LS was ushered into the automotive arena. It gave the world a refreshing alternative to the luxury limousines offered by established German brands.
Lexus, believes the fifth incarnation of the LS can make even more of an impression. The situation helped, by the current demonization of diesel and the ever-growing constraints on motoring around urban areas on everything other than electrical energy.
Speaking of power, the Lexus LS 500h hybrid combines a 299PS 3.5-litre V6 petrol lump with a couple of electric motors, offering a total output of 359PS – that’s enough to get the four-wheel-drive car from zero to 62 in just 5.5 seconds. However, the efficiency of the Lexus isn’t staggering – the LS 500h Premier AWD, as tested here, achieves 39.8mpg and CO2 emissions are 161g/km. Still, the figures could be far worse.
The flagship Premier trim accounts for up to 45% of sales in the UK and carries luxury features, such as Shiatsu massage, for occupants. It also houses a fantastic ottoman function in the back seats moving the front passenger seat out of the way, giving a metre of legroom for one of the rear seat passengers. Awesome, or what?
Additionally, Premier LS 500h’s are kitted out with the Lexus Safety System+A. This incorporates the ability to keep the vehicle in its lane while you keep a light touch on the steering wheel, and to change lanes if you simply hold the indicator in its ‘halfway’ location. There’s also a state-of-the-art pedestrian avoidance feature that can brake and swerve to circumvent an impact.
Ride-wise, the LS 500h is sandwiched between the Audi A8 and the Mercedes S-Class. The Premier’s air suspension irons out all but the worst of potholes, providing a soothing drive for 99% of the time. However, the LS rolls in bends – but that’s not surprising as the car weighs 2.4 tonnes. What’s more, the steering is a bit too light and sluggish, making it difficult to gauge what’s happening under the tyres.
Happily, refinement is the Lexus’ strong point – it’s hushed at speed and, around town, all you hear is a faint electric whirr with the occasional low-key firing up of the combustion engine. In this regard, the LS500 h is an excellent limousine.
Inside, the designers have unleashed their creativity with lots of Japanese craftwork, making the Lexus stand out from the old-school German rivals. There are some beautiful touches, with cut-glass interior trim in the style of Kiriko a traditional Japanese technique for glass decoration.
Interior details are taken even further by opting for hand-pleated materials in the LS’ door panels. The car also has a sizeable head-up display fitted. It’s incredibly easy to read and use, but it’s a shame there’s no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay connectivity offered. All in all a nice touch, but a £7600 option.
All in all, the LS 500h has come on in leaps and bounds. It’s brimming with technology, and the cabin is superbly put together. The hybrid powertrain is also on point for present-day needs. Indeed, there is little doubt Limo buyers after a left-field choice will find lots to like in the Lexus LS 500h.
Car reviewed: Lexus LS500 h Premier Pleat AWD, on the road price £113,870 0-62mph 5.5secs Top speed 155mph Engine 3456cc V6 24-valveDOHC unleaded Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy Combined 39.8mpg CO2 emissions 161g/km Total Power Output 354bhp Max Power Engine 295bhp@6600rpm Max Power Electric Motor 177bhp Transmission Multi stage hybrid all-wheel -drive
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After many, many years of being passionate about cars, spending too much money on cars and too much time driving. I have now spend my time running and developing Drive.co.uk and creating a bold expressive new motoring lifestyle website.
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