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21 September 2017


Lexus LS LS600h - standard and L road test report

LS600h - standard and L

Toyota is the world’s largest car manufacturer, and Lexus is its luxury brand, so you’d expect the flagship of the Lexus range to be something special. With the world’s first V8/hybrid power, the first hybrid with all-wheel-drive and even the first human body sensing temperature control, the LS600h is very special indeed.

Road Test Reports Says5 star rating
A front-facing image of the Lexus LS

Image number 2 of the Lexus LSImage number 3 of the Lexus LSImage number 4 of the Lexus LS

Performance Performance - 5 stars

Hybrids usually run on a battery powered electric motor at lower speeds, with a petrol engine taking over at higher speeds while also re-charging the batteries. But like the RX and GS Lexus’, the big LS can also combine the power of its 5-litre V8 and separate electric motor to produce 439bhp with one giant wave of torque. Lexus claims this dual-motor combination provides power equivalent to a high performance 6-litre petrol engine (hence the 600 name), and having driven the LS flat out on an unrestricted German autobahn, I can confirm that’s no exaggeration. The LS also features an ultra sophisticated, 8--step automatic CVT transmission, regenerative braking that re-charges the electric motor’s batteries, and it goes like stink right up to its 155mph maximum.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 5 stars

The technology doesn’t end there. With all-wheel-drive, a highly advanced limited slip differential, electric variable-ratio power steering, adaptive (active) air suspension and more, the big LS delivers a ride so plush and refined that it could be a hovercraft, albeit a near silent one. The standard wheelbase model even boasts an optional active (computer-controlled) stabiliser system, so it can be hustled along a twisting, undulating road with uncanny control. The 120mm longer and 250kg heavier L version isn’t quite as agile, but you have to be driving pretty hard to notice any difference.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

Judging by the various owner surveys conducted over the past several years, Lexus has built up a reputation for build, reliability and customer service that is second to none. Though the car can’t be faulted after a short one-day test, there’s no escaping the fact that the LS600h has an awful of mechanical and electronic gubbins that could go wrong. However, in this case I doubt that they will, not for a long, long time.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

Lexus claims that it offers the most active, passive and preventative safety technology of any manufacturer, and I can see why. How’s this for starters: Pre-Crash Safety System with Obstacle Detection System, Driver Monitoring System, Emergency Steering Assist, Rear Pre-Crash Safety System, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system, electronically controlled brakes with ABS, Brake Assist and Brakeforce Distribution, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, Driving Response and Acceleration Management System, Intelligent Parking Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, the world’s first LED headlamps, front Twin Chamber airbags and Rear Seat Cushion airbags, and Smart Keyless Entry with Card Key. I could continue, but I’m sure you get the picture. This car makes houses look dangerous.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 5 stars

The LS600 is a large, accommodating and sumptuous executive car with a 330-litre boot. It’s also packed to the ceiling with every conceivable luxury gadget and gizmo. The L version, for example, comes with a retractable, roof-mounted 9-inch colour entertainment screen with a 19-speaker Mark Levinson 7.1 surround sound, a 5-litre cool box, all-round sunshades and even ‘Roof Climate Diffusers’ which provide cool air from above. The rear seat opposite to that of the driver has a ‘conventional’ massage system, as well as air-assisted massage with eight pneumatic chambers for shoulders, back and hips, and it’s all programmable for technique and intensity. This seat also reclines to 45 degrees with extending thigh and foot support cushions. Needless to say, while a passenger I found all this very relaxing – relaxing enough to take a well-earned nap at 140mph.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

No car in this class, whether Mercedes S, BMW 7 or Audi A8, is cheap to buy, maintain, insure or run. Quite the reverse in fact. And these flagship motors can also depreciate alarmingly quickly, although the LS600 appears to be faring better than most on that score. Lexus marketeers don’t pretend that the LS is a green car per se, but with a combined mpg of 30.4, and being able to run on electricity alone in the city, and having a comparatively low 219g/km CO2 figure, it’s definitely greener than its German rivals, and it’s an as yet unmatched technological tour de force.

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