Richard Bremner
22 November 2012

What is it?

The LS was the car that launched Lexus back in 1989. But as the firm's range has filled out this high-end limo has become a minority-interest model, finding only 100 buyers last year. 

The financial crisis hasn’t helped, and neither has the LS's age, which is why this facelift has penetrated more deeply than most makeovers to feature 3000 changes, ranging from an exterior restyling to a new dashboard, structural strengthening, a revised climate control system and, intriguingly, the reintroduction of the petrol V8 without hybrid hardware. 

That may seem odd in these CO2-obsessed times, but Lexus is confident that around 80 per cent of the 300 to 400 LS’s it expects to sell next year will be V8s, the rest accounted for by the long-wheelbase LS600h L hybrid.

Lexus is confident because it’s still in touch with a pool of several thousand LS V8 owners who’d like to renew without the complexity of a hybrid.

The other major change is the introduction of a sporting LS F Sport, its arrival mirroring the offer of more dynamic F versions across the rest of the Lexus range. It will take 40 per cent of sales. The LS460 Luxury sampled here will account for another 40 per cent.

Among the myriad detail improvements are aerodynamic tweaks to improve high speed stability, an ambient cabin lighting system, upgraded LED exterior lamps and an impressively scaled multimedia screen of somewhat dated graphics. 

What is it like?

The V8 propelling all this kit spills 382bhp at 6400rpm and 364lb ft of torque at 4100rpm, number combinations that looks decidedly old-school these days. And despite the fitment of an eight-speed automatic, a CO2 emission figure of 249g/km isn’t great either. But this is an impressively willing V8, free-revving and smooth, too, if a little hard-edged at high revs.

Few will find this out unless they hold a low gear, because ample torque and eight speeds obviate the need for high revs unless you’re going for a flat-out getaway. And that’s unlikely, because this Luxury Lexus is all about oozing to your destination in unflurried, silent comfort. 

The silent bit it manages exceptionally well, too. The powertrain rarely intrudes and the commotion of motion emerges only faintly at close to three-figure speeds. A soft ride is evident almost from the moment its wheels turn, thanks to the air springs which are as pliant as pillows. But rather like sitting on a well stuffed cushion, this Lexus has a faintly topplesome feel to it that makes this suppleness less soothing than you’d expect. You feel like you’re sitting on the car rather than properly in it, which produces a less slightly less restful experience. 

Though this sensation can be diminished by selecting Sport and driving fast enough for the air springs to firm sufficiently, you’ll need to be travelling at near-to-illegal speeds to get there. The F Sport version is likely to be better, especially as the LS is better balanced than its cosseting remit might suggest.

Should I buy one?

There’s no escaping the fact that, facelift or not, the LS is feeling dated. 

Though finely constructed – and available with an uncharacteristically wide array of colours and woods for a Japanese car – the interior looks curiously uncoordinated, the chassis is well short of providing the handling and comfort mix that its competitors manage and the V8’s emissions are almost wilfully out of kilter. 

Despite this, the car still musters a quietly sumptuous charm that makes it easy to understand why a few hundred loyalists will want an LS and nothing else.

Lexus LS460 Luxury

Price £71,995; 0-62mph 5.7sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 26.4mpg; CO2 249g/km; Kerb weight 1980kg; Engine V8, 4608cc, petrol; Power 382bhp at 6400rpm; Torque 364lb ft at 4100rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic

Join the debate

Comments
10

gosh only 100 sales last

1 year 35 weeks ago

gosh only 100 sales last year? the lack of V6 diesel power and the fact that the range kicks off at 10K too high goes some way to explain it

twitter @anikadamali, @notPCnairobi

I imagine for those who buy

1 year 35 weeks ago

I imagine for those who buy it the combination of guaranteed reliability of a level the opposition can only dream, and posibly the fact that fact its not German will be enough. The fact its better looking than the alternatives (to my eyes) can only help. 

The Japanese dont put the same effort into cheating the EU CO2 test so their cars never look as economical as the German alternatives. I doubt in the real world the same is true, but its clearly irrelavent to a car costing £90k, where the biggist bill by a factor of 10 will be depreciation.

Its not my sort of car, but i like it all the same and i am pleased we continue to get alternatives to the default Germans even if they sell in smallish numbers

jer

after an XJ

1 year 35 weeks ago

I think I'd have one of these if I ever went for a limo. Refinment, nice interior, looks good for this type of car, smooth V8 with reasonable economy whats not to like in a limo? footnote are all these type of cars 92k?

I love the objectivity of

1 year 35 weeks ago

I love the objectivity of this road test, they bang on about its poor  CO2 ratings but fail to mention they are better than the BMW 750 or the XJ V8, and only marginally worse than the  Mercedes S500 Blue Efficiency.. 

Citytiger...

1 year 35 weeks ago

Errrr, really?

Have you been using Autocar's infamously unreliable data to support your post?

I find the 750i to offer 449hp, 480lbft and a 0-62 sprint of 4.8s for a penalty of just 199 CO2s (from BMW's website)

The Jag has less favourable stats but its 270g/km is down to the fact it's supercharged and has even more power than the BMW. I can't be ar5ed to find the stats for the no-longer-available n/a V8.

Nor can I be ar5ed to look at anything to do with the S-Class for fear of falling asleep at the mere sight of it.

Give me the Jag any day.

fail

1 year 35 weeks ago

 

oh boy, always same story: reliability

Just sample it: cheap plastic analog clock in the center dash, CVT box "with 8 gears", unsofisticated knobs for seat heating/ventilation, rear bench center armrest that falls without grace & allure, and topping piece: just find where they have put the trunk release button!

Those 100 sales already include network cars, we hope.

Last time I checked, the Quattroporte is italian and the XJ is british. And both are much better. But of course, we can always head to the king: the S class, that outsells everything, and thats what counts.

But yesboys will always moan about reliability.

 

artill wrote: I imagine for

1 year 35 weeks ago

artill wrote:

I imagine for those who buy it the combination of guaranteed reliability of a level the opposition can only dream, and posibly the fact that fact its not German will be enough. The fact its better looking than the alternatives (to my eyes) can only help. 

The Japanese dont put the same effort into cheating the EU CO2 test so their cars never look as economical as the German alternatives. I doubt in the real world the same is true, but its clearly irrelavent to a car costing £90k, where the biggist bill by a factor of 10 will be depreciation.

Its not my sort of car, but i like it all the same and i am pleased we continue to get alternatives to the default Germans even if they sell in smallish numbers

I know that looks are subjective...but I really can't see this being better looking than the opposition, from any angle.

Regards reliability, the S-Class is pretty much on-par with the LS while offering a much nicer cabin (some trim and the overall design of the LS just looks a-bit iffy/cheap). And of course, the S-Class is objectively better than the LS in most departments as well despite being the oldest car in the class.

Regards fuel economy, some of the worst 'sinners' are Japanese cars you know, specifically hybrids. I read a test where, in the real world, the Prius deviated the most from the official fuel economy figures and a Merc SLK was actually more economical than the claimed figures...so go figure Wink

IMO, the XJ and S-Class are still by far and away the best in class, followed by the A8 and 7-Series.

 

- Follow your own star -

 I believe the LS is more

1 year 35 weeks ago

 I believe the LS is more capable than most either here,or the motoring press,give it credit for.It also looks a lot more appealing than a few of its competitors.

Finally Lexus

1 year 35 weeks ago

Thank you Lexus for finally making a car that actually has a hint of desireability, all the past models have been appallingly dull

Too bad they dont have the LX

1 year 35 weeks ago

Too bad they dont have the LX in the UK!

twitter @anikadamali, @notPCnairobi

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Our Verdict

The Lexus LS is a huge, high-quality limo. Great refinement, but high running costs.

Driven this week