The LS600h is Lexus’s latest and greatest hybrid. It marries a 5.0-litre 388bhp V8 petrol engine with a 221bhp electric motor in what must be the most seamlessly integrated hybrid drivetrain yet created.
All in, the 600h packs 439bhp and yet it pumps out just 219g/km of CO2 – 1g/km below the far less powerful Mercedes S320 CDI. It’ll also do 0-62mph in 6.3sec, hit 155mph and return an average of 30.4mpg.
At 60mph, the loudest noise in the LS600h isn’t the ticking of the clock. Neither is it the engine, road roar, or even wind noise. No, the loudest noise comes from the electric fan of the air-conditioning unit, cooling the supremely comfortable soft leather seat upon which you are sitting. And even that’s hardly what you’d call loud.
Green or not, the 600h is a seriously impressive device. Its V8 is a bored-out version of the 460’s motor, but instead of that car’s eight-speed auto there’s a kind of continuously variable transmission in line with the electric motor. This is mated to a new Torsen differential that splits power front to rear.
Why the extra weight and complication of a four-wheel drive system? Lexus reckons that this much power demands four-wheel drive.
Despite its comfort focus, the LS remains a remarkably tidy drive, and an improvement over the outgoing car. It does a decent job of disguising its girth and remains composed even when driven hard.
And we have no doubt about the electro-hydraulic brakes’ ability to haul the car up from high speeds, although the system is inconsistent in town, sometimes appearing overly assisted and at other times needing a firmer stab on the pedal.