Fleet News

Lexus LS400



ONE of Lexus's greatest attributes in the luxury car market is, paradoxically, its anonymity - not from a brand awareness point of view but from owners who like to keep a low profile with their luxury cars. More recently, it's been dependability and customer loyalty that has helped push Lexus to the head of its class.

With Toyota's solid reliability reputation behind it, LS 400s seldom, if ever, go wrong. Even if they do, there's the strength of the three-year/60,000-mile warranty as back-up. In the eight years or so Lexus has been around on the UK market, three versions of the flagship LS400 have appeared, each advancing on the previous model's already impressive refinement and luxury credentials.

As well as enhanced power output from the 4.0-litre V8 engine - up from 260bhp to 280bhp thanks to the addition of variable valve timing - the LS is claimed as the first car to get satellite navigation as standard, just one of dozens of improvements aimed at fine-tuning the car's position in the market. New styling front and rear has successfully tidied up the previous model's slightly incoherent looks: in fact, the LS now looks even more like an S-class Mercedes - no doubt an intentional flurry of the stylist's pen.

Since its 1990 launch, almost 7,300 LS400s have been sold, and up until the end of June the third generation car, tested here, has sold 523 indicating a steady increase in the rate of sale. At just one pound short of ú50,000 on the road, the LS400 isn't cheap, at over ú3,000 more than a Jaguar XJ8 Sovereign, but it looks value compared with the Mercedes S-class. The six-cylinder S320 falls behind the Lexus on refinement and mechanical sophistication, yet costs ú300 more. Likewise, a BMW 740i is almost ú600 pricier.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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