As a luxury machine – a tool to comfort, isolate and protect from the outside world – the Lexus LS is first rate. But as a luxury object to provide the sense of occasion that buyers paying £90,000 or more expect, the LS’s attributes are less clear. Over 500 miles, the depths of its abilities, its quietness and soothing ride can’t fail to impress, yet there are aspects – in the cabin, particularly – that for us blemish the experience.
It all boils down to satisfaction. Details like the overly light glovebox and inadequate gearlever. Or the driver-monitoring system that, despite its immense cleverness, looks like a cross between a set-top digibox and the robot from Short Circuit. Or the dashboard that is too easily spoilt by bright green lights if you adjust the dampers or use any of the convenience devices. And although the LS is intuitive to use, the cabin is untidily strewn with buttons, many of which could have been consolidated within the touchscreen.
No doubt Lexus has the know-how to get these things right, but maybe not the will. And that brings us back to our gap between perceived and engineered quality. Perhaps it’s a cultural difference, but for European buyers, perceived quality is important and, in this respect, the LS is not quite everything it needs to be.