Back in 1989, the comfortable and refined LS400 announced Lexus to the world, making established luxury manufacturers sit up and take note. Four generations on, this latest LS purports to do what Lexus has always threatened and be the complete luxury package while, at the same time, recapturing some of that first car's special feel in process.

There’s only one problem: the Mercedes S-class. Neither is it exactly glorious at first glance, for all Lexus’s talk of its L-finesse design language. But the LS600h will need to be a mightily good car to compete with the Mercedes, the favoured choice of diplomats and world leaders everywhere.

On paper, Lexus is certainly talking the talk. It still looks awkward, but it’s still the first big Lexus that, one could argue, is good-looking in an unconventional kind of way. And, crucially, it’s the first that looks like threatening the Germans without copying them, thanks to its unalloyed luxury without Germanic aggression.

It’s a car so complex that the manual explaining the LS’s many, many functions runs to 596 pages, and that’s before you dip into the 218-page tome that explains the navigation system.

So for all its obvious appeal to the head, can this be the first big Lexus that appeals to the heart? Or has Lexus’s pursuit of perfection gone too far?

Top 5 Luxury

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Lexus range

Driven this week

  • Lamborghini Aventador S
    First Drive
    21 January 2017
    Is an upgrade to 730bhp and the addition of four-wheel steering enough to realise the Aventador's potential?
  • Ford Focus RS Mountune FPM375
    First Drive
    20 January 2017
    Does an official Mountune upgrade of 25bhp and 30lb ft, improve the already rampant and rather magnificent Ford Focus RS?
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    19 January 2017
    The Audi S5 Sportback is more bruising GT than practical sports car, but it makes sense for those wanting a fast executive saloon in coupé get-up
  • First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Despite receiving a cosmetic and mechanical refresh, Lexus's compact executive saloon still fails to provide much driving involvement
  • 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5h review
    First Drive
    18 January 2017
    Big-selling plug-in SUV gets a light refresh in the face of new challengers to offer decent economy but only average driving dynamics