It might sit at the exclusive end of the market, but for Lexus the LS is a car that showcases its technology, quality and comfort.
The premium division of Toyota has a long-standing reputation for service excellence at both manufacturer and dealer level, but its strategy of focusing on petrol hybrid engine technology has offered attractive paper figures for CO2 and fuel consumption but very high running costs – sometimes more than double its closest competitors.
Does the LS change that? Partially.
There’s no doubt the LS600 hybrid’s 199g/km and 32.8mpg offers a much improved CO2 and fuel figure compared to the LS460’s 249g/km/26.4mpg (although its higher price makes running costs more expensive).
But it’s not so impressive when compared to the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
The S500 V8 petrol will almost match those 199g/km CO2 emissions at 207g/km; the S400 hybrid lowers them to 147g/km.
Then there’s the forthcoming £65,000 S300 hybrid, which promises an untouchable 115g/km when it arrives next year.
Nevertheless, Lexus believes the LS surpasses the S-Class in terms of comfort, quality, driver appeal and specification levels.
It pitches the car as a luxury model that will appeal both to those who prefer to be chauffeured and those doing the chauffeuring – around half of the 100 or so sold annually are business purchases by blue chip companies to chauffeur their top management.
The driving experience is outstanding. It’s a big, heavy car, yet it never feels that way.
The LS is manoeuvrable, even in squeezed city centre streets and comfortable for a stress-free driving experience over long distances.
It also has exceptional rear head and legroom and a reasonable boot capacity in the hybrid (smaller than in the 460 due to the battery), while the ottoman seat size is one of the most generous around.
The all-new S-Class, which Mercedes is bullishly positioning as ‘the best car in the world’, might be its nemesis, but as a halo car for Lexus that showcases the latest technology and supreme quality, the LS will continue to raise the carmaker’s profile in the top-end fleet sector.