Lexus has been a brand that has stood for automotive luxury and it has done just that with the launch of the LS 500h. It’s the Japanese answer to its German rivals and Lexus being so good over the years, it will yet again spoil the party for the German trio. Mind you with all those mad angles and bends, the design might appeal to the unconventional buyer who is looking for something more than mere luxury. Lexus has been Toyota’s luxury division for cars for the last 30 years, and it has come up with some breath taking models. And like all these years, the hard work that the Japs put in to build this car has paid off. This is something special that Lexus has come up with, and the Japs being so good at what they do, have yet again come with a scintillating Samurai stance, five door luxury car. Lexus as a brand has always been different, it breaks the commonness and when it comes to luxury it is set apart. The segment usually dominated by the likes of the S – Class and the 7 series could take a back step simply because it lacks the aesthetic charm of the LS 500. In many ways then the Lexus lifts itself from being a luxury car and carries itself more as a suave lifestyle product.
It is a very radical design that Lexus has implemented. With that spindle grille upfront, it does carry Lexus’s signature hallmark, there are 5,000 distinct surfaces in the LS grille which goes on to show the attention to detail that Lexus puts in to develop their cars. The open fangs on both sides give it a very aggressive character. The lightning bolt styled headlamps look sporty with the LED treatment. And much is the case with the rest of the car. The sloping roofline for instance speaks about the streamlined aerodynamic character and the side mirrors also look like as though they were designed in a wind tunnel. Even the 20 – inch chrome wheels standout as it is not found on any other car in this segment. The LS then in peculiar Japanese fashion merges well its curvy shades with samurai like sharp edges, it is a design element found in most Japanese cars these days. The shoulder line with the arching roofline adds a crisp character to the car. The rear of the car takes a more conventional outlook and the tail lights do look neat. The boot is not small either and should be able to carry your weekend luggage. To sum it up, this long car with a stance unlike any German car has an appeal which is not at all understated but peeks into a more flamboyant persona.
The cabin quality is top notch and there are several gizmos to play with. The seats are more like thrones which come with 28 way adjustments upfront and its similar at the rear, there is scope also for Shiatsu massage, which also includes spot heaters for the shoulders and lower back. So those comfy seats with a thumping Mark Levinson stereo call for an ultra-cosy experience. The LS 500 houses an 8 inch TFT screen and a 12.3 inch central infotainment which is navigated via a touchpad. Lexus claims best-in-class legroom with the seat fully reclined and the front-passenger seat leaned up against the dash. The intricate detailing of the cabin makes it distinct from the German cars and the material used is top quality that make it look and feel great. Depending on the model you choose, you can select the type of wood or metal inlays. What doesn’t fit well in this otherwise luxurious cabin is the touchpad-based control system for its infotainment system which is clunky and overly complicated with too many unintuitive menus. Keeping in mind how tough it is in this segment, these minute details might cost dear to the luxury car manufacturer. But to reassure everything feels right the LS has got the best of Japanese designing and styling in the form of the nation’s sense of hospitality (omotenashi), and the Takumi craftsmen. But what’s left to notice is whether this new gen Lexus stands a chance against overly popular European saloons. The other strange bit is that there is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The biggest takeaway amongst the lot is going to be the enormous Heads up Display which is capable of relaying vital information to enhance your driving experience. A bucket load of features ensure that you get all the required pampering in your luxo-limo ride. You get 14 airbags, satellite navigation, 360 degree camera, air suspension, electric sunroof, 4 zone auto climate control, Auto LED headlamps, Active noise cancellation and rear seat entertainment system.
The LS that will be coming to India is the LS 500h, which means it is essentially going to be a hybrid, so this large car is nature friendly too. Powering the car is a 3.5 l V6 Petrol electric hybrid which comes mated to a 4 speed automatic transmission and two electric motors powering the rear wheel via a 6 speed CVT gearbox. So in total there are ten gear ratios, which has helped Lexus rectify the elastic nature of the gear box. Hitting the accelerator would only push the revs but surprisingly there was no distinct change in speed, but the 10 gear ratios, help provide noticeable steps in acceleration like a regular gearbox. The motor churns out [email protected] and 350Nm of torque @ 5100 rpm. The car can clock a 0-100kph in 5.6 seconds which is blisteringly quick for a car of this size. Now in this sublime luxurious experience what can give you a pleasant surprise is the grunt that you can hear while you are hard at the accelerator. Even though you get Active noise cancellation you can still hear the growls that the car makes which you otherwise don’t find on other cars in this class. The good thing though is that those growls are brute and might tempt you to push this limo even harder. The ride then is sublime and absorbs most undulations with utmost ease. It is stiff enough to avoid a floaty ride, but despite all that, it misses out on the super luxurious ride that other cars offer, especially the S – class. And then it isn’t as dynamic as a 7 series either, but set it in Sport S or Sport S+ and it will entertain to most of your driving frenzies. It’s not as refined as some of its rivals and the air suspension does allow some body lean in sportier suspension modes. And then there are those radar technologies which work well abroad but will have to go under the scanner in a chaotic country like ours.
Should you have one
In a segment filled with well-established stalwarts, the LS 500h is going to be the new kid in the block. It does have some interesting bits to show off and is really good at what it is meant for. The rear seat especially is a great place to be in and that’s where most Lexus buyers will tend to be. Even the massaging function is the best in class along with the interesting architecture that the car carries. However, ride and refinement doesn’t quite matchup to S-class levels and neither is it as agile as an A8 or a 7-series. But the stance and overall persona of the car is more Maserati than any of its German rivals and that is where the Lexus is going to score well. This then is going to be the outcaste which might go on to break the set hierarchy because it really brings in a whole new definition to automotive luxury.