From £70,329
Competent and confident, it may not peg the passion meter but the 2013 Lexus LS is definitely learning to emote

Our Verdict

Lexus LS

The Lexus LS is a huge, high-quality limo. Great refinement, but high running costs and no Mercedes-Benz S-Class

  • First Drive

    Lexus LS460 Luxury

    The 2013 Lexus LS is outclassed by all its rivals, but its refinement, equipment, construction quality and V8 powertrain still appeal
  • First Drive

    2013 Lexus LS 600h

    Luxuriously equipped and better to drive, the latest generation LS600h is a great improvement over its predecessor
21 August 2012

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's 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.

Paul A. Eisenstein

Lexus LS460 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

 

Join the debate

Comments
18

21 August 2012

I am intrigued by the idea of "front- and rear-wheel-drive model variants".  I'm not aware of any manufacturer offering this on the same car before?

Pity that Toyota seem to think that 'passion' means 'big wheels, lowered suspension and a big angry grille'.  I know that Lexus has always been boring, but it's a pity they couldn't find some more unique and sophisticated passions  which would enhance the car instead of chavving it up.

21 August 2012

@disco.stu

For somebody who refers to himself as 'the car expert', disco.stu's post shows a worrying lack of ability to stray from the stereotype.

Did you miss the IS F?  Or how about the LFA?

And when was the last time you actually drove one of the brands you readily dismiss?

How about the new GS? Have you driven that?  In Germany its beating BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class in group tests?  Does that mean BMW and Merc have gotten even more boring?

I would have hope a 'car expert' would have a more informed and experienced position.

22 August 2012

disco.stu wrote:

I am intrigued by the idea of "front- and rear-wheel-drive model variants".  I'm not aware of any manufacturer offering this on the same car before?

Pity that Toyota seem to think that 'passion' means 'big wheels, lowered suspension and a big angry grille'.  I know that Lexus has always been boring, but it's a pity they couldn't find some more unique and sophisticated passions  which would enhance the car instead of chavving it up.

Not sure why a couple of people are apparently annoyed at Stu's view of Lexus. In the UK, Lexus have a general reputation of being boring and an uninspiring design or drive. This attempt at countering this perception suggests Lexus think this too. It's a shame they've tried to make it look like a Halfords Audi if the photo is anything to go by. 

Stu hasn't said Lexus have bad cars (and their reputation for reliability is high) but that the perception is they're boring and uninspired. I agree with that, as I suspect most others do. Ask a non car enthusiast if they could identify a Lexus (I just asked my wife) and I bet many could not identify a Lexus in the street. Ask them the same question about a Merc, Audi, Beemer and even Jag...

The comments section needs a makeover... how about a forum??

21 August 2012

Seem Lexus know how to make a decent luxury car nowadays and the dealerships are excellent but the brand are seriously lacking the brand marketing firepower that Mercedes and Audi have been throwing around. There's not much aspiration or desire to own the brand, other than it being a "sensible choice", and Lexus seem to be still struggling to get rid of the Partridge image.

21 August 2012

I don't know if it is the case with this Lexus but in the past 15 years or so every time I have climed into a lexus, I would find the same cheap switches as I would in ALL other Toyotas from a corolla onwards.....

This to me has been a big off putting factor with a Lexus. -Just couldn't take them seriously.

 

And that dreaded styling Every Single Time .....!   Sad

 

This one reminds me of this;

predetor

 

 

21 August 2012

@soldi

The LF A is hardly a yardstick of Lexus' overall brand values.  It was a halo project which lost an enormous amount of money to create some interest in the brand, but has little resemblance to the rest of the range which has always been technically competent but emotionally invisible.  And when was the last time you actually saw one on the road or even in a dealership?  A halo car only works if it is visible and prominent.

The halo car trick has been used by many manufacturers over time, but does not change the reality that Lexus' models have failed to gain significant interest in Europe.  In the US, they do much better.  The dealer experience is excellent (as Orangewheels has said) and they do a high level of repeat business off the strength of their customer service rather than car buyers having any great desire to own a Lexus.  The IS F has hardly been a raging success, bringing nothing to the table with which to scare the big 3 Germans or tempt buyers away from an M3/AMG C-class/RS 4.

Lexus has spent most of its 20-year history trying to imitate Mercedes (and, more recently, BMW and Audi) rather than creating its own identity.  The new LS pictured here is an update of their last Mercedes imitation, but given an Audi template of massive grille, big wheels, black interior, lower it a bit and call it 'sporty'.  It might be technically competent but it will sell in ridiculously small numbers and depreciate like the Titanic.

So to go back to my original point, it would be good if Toyota/Lexus could find an expression of 'passion' that moves the brand (and the industry) in a new direction rather than following the Germans yet again.  The world hardly needs a pale imitation of an S-class AMG or S8.  Their big USP is the hybrid system, but that completely kills the boot space and renders it useless for most buyers.

21 August 2012

@disco.stu

OK, you're 'the car expert', but lets get some facts on the table 'cos you seem to have missed them:

- Lexus is the number 4 premium brand worldwide in terms of sales (after MB, BMW, Audi)

- As such they outsell many more 'estalbished' brands such as Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Cadillac, Lincoln, etc.

- Heck, Lexus sells more cars in Europe than Jaguar does WORLDWIDE

- Lexus has forced the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi into producing hybrids (and yes, the new GS hybrid actually has more boot space than the A6/BMW 5-series despite being a hybrid - another of your stereotypes you need to forget)

- Lexus is still only 20 years old

- The fact that Lexus exists has forced BMW, Mercedes and Audi to up their game and think twice about being complacent. I think we should all be grateful for that.

If Lexus was to get a school report card, I guess it would say 'showing potential, keep developing'.  I think they've done incredibly well to challenge the existing luxury car establishment, and

 

Now, if you open your eyes and demonstrate some of that 'expertise' that you claim, you might actually begin to realise that the luxury car market worldwide has been significantly impacted by Lexus.

21 August 2012

@ soldi: I'm not saying that you're wrong, but I'm afraid I sense you're a-bit of a Lexus fan and as such are a tad biased...personally I must agree with disco.stu - yes, Lexus has improved over the years but still needs to catch up with Merc, BMW, Audi and even Jaguar.

You see, the IS-F - while not a bad car - is simply not that different from its rivals, especially the C63...and it's got an engine developed by someone other than Lexus and if I recall correctly half of its tailpapes are fake. The LFA, unfortunately, is a relatively poor car if you think about it - I mean, it costs so much and has quite a-bit of so-called "advanced engineering" but it cannot keep up with cars costing half as much or even less than that (it was beaten by Ferrari 458, Merc SLS and Nissan GTR for example).

As to the more mainstream models - as someone mentioned, they just look and feel too similar to their Toyota counterparts. And that's because they are quite similar to their Toyota counterparts...in fact, a few weeks ago I saw a prominent 'Toyota' logo under the bonnet of a Lexus, and I also saw 'Toyota' written on a bag with a Lexus badge in it...

And I also don't like their attitude towards more serious things such as safety - I often sense their cars pass regulations just because they have to, nothing more. A good example of this is the accelerator pedal recall which wasn't issued (despite Lexus' and Toyota's knowledge) until their name was shamed in the press and after several serious injuries (even deaths were reported in that case)). There was also an issue with one of their four-wheel-drives' stability control system which didn't really work - again, they only recalled them after being shamed in the press.

This LS? I'm afraid it doesn't look enough like a luxury saloon and this model looks way too chav-tastic. And the new S-Class is just round the corner, which will alsmost certainly throw it into the middle of next week. Even the current S-Class is probably still better than this, and it's the oldest car in its class now.

 

- Follow your own star -

21 August 2012

@Christian Galea

Actually I don't really consider myself a Lexus fan in the sense you portray.

However I do tend to react to people who constantly peddle stereotypes because they either are too lazy or too ignorant - especially from someone who calls themself 'thecarexpert' !

21 August 2012

@Christian Galea

And looking under the bonnet of an Audi there wont be VW badges anywhere?

And Audi carrier bags wont say Volkswagen Group?

Component sharing is alive and how manufacturers survive in the modern era.

 

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