What is it?
Few vehicles have had a more dramatic impact on the luxury car market than the Lexus LS – which proved the Japanese could build a truly credible challenger to Germany.
That said, while quiet, competent and high-quality, prior LS generations have had a big gap in the passion category. That’s something Toyota President Akio Toyoda has promised to fix.
What is it like?
Parked alongside the outgoing saloon, the 2013 model is a striking departure. The spindle grille anchors what is, nose-to-tail, a more aggressive and exciting look that is more refined and planted yet manages to deliver a sense of power in the broadened haunches flaring out from the rounded C-pillar.
The interior of the LS has always delivered a flagship feel. But the new LS steps things up several notches. There’s a more seamless flow from doors to instrument panel and the new model adopts several new finishes, including the optional shimamoku wood that undergoes a 67-step process – taking 38 days – to prepare for use in the new LS.
In the States, at least, the 2013 LS will now be offered with seven different versions, including the “base” car, front- and rear-wheel-drive model variants, the previously mentioned 600h hybrid, short and long-wheelbase variants – and the all-new LS 460 F Sport. The LS600h is the only model slated for a UK launch.
The LS460 F Sport gets a number of visual tweaks, including a mesh grille, revised bumpers and headlamps, brake cooling inlets and a 10mm lower ride height (with the air suspension. It’s 20mm lower than the standard coil spring saloon). The brakes are bigger, the throttle and shift mapping – at least in Sport Mode – are more aggressive and steering is faster and more taut.
The powertrain, however, is unchanged but for the LS600h, with its 5.0-litre V8 and twin electric motors – the F Sport and all other LS variants powered by the same 4.6-litre DOHC, though it gets six more horsepower, at 386, with torque holding to 367 lb/ft.
Dialled to Comfort or Eco Modes, the 2013 Lexus LS460 delivers the sort of cushy, comfortable, non-challenging ride dynamics Lexus owners have come to expect. Shifted to Sport or Sport Plus, however, the new luxo-saloon is a different animal. Still an amazingly quiet automobile it actually demonstrates some of the passion that Toyoda promised. Give some of the credit to the LS460’s new Frequency Adaptive Damping Shocks which can instantly adjust to road surface conditions.
Should I buy one?
This is no Mercedes S63 AMG, nor BMW 750. Yes, you can flog the F Sport more aggressively around corners than the base car, and the base car itself is more fun to drive than the outgoing LS, but the 2013 Lexus LS clearly isn’t going to be described as the new ultimate driving machine.
Nonetheless, the Lexus LS will now have broader appeal – and to more than just those folks who don’t really like automobiles. It’s a big step forward.
Lexus LS 460 F Sport
Price na; 0-62 5.7sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 26.4mpg; CO2 249g/km; Kerbweight 2020kg; Engine V8, 4608cc, petrol; Power 382bhp at 6400rpm; Torque 364lb/ft at 4100rpm; Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Paul A. Eisenstein