The LS will be a heavy car however you specify it. It is to Lexus’s credit, therefore, that the LS’s handling belies all that weight, and that – rather unlike that of its predecessors – makes for one of the more naturally agile limousines in its class.
At moderately keen road speeds, the LS maintains good, flat body control around quicker corners and has fairly crisp and consistent steering response. The car’s balance of grip deteriorates if you start to lean on the outside tyres with any real vigour, and with a suddenness that eventually reveals the bulk that the adaptive air suspension has been so effectively masking.
Even so, the LS’s electronic safety aids guard the limits of its handling and stability very effectively. The car’s ride, by contrast, doesn’t so clearly “go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury vehicle”. Over a smooth surface and at low speeds, the suppleness and bump absorption of the air suspension are more than respectable – provided you use the Comfort driving mode.
Larger intrusions are filtered out fairly well, too. But sharper ridges, particularly those taken at A-road and B-road speeds, are dealt with in a slightly fussy, fidgeting way that feels closer to what you’d expect of the ride of big-wheeled grand tourer than of a limousine.
The LS’s secondary ride – the close control of its wheels relative to the ground – is just clumsy enough to make you aware of the stiffness of the standard run-flat tyres’ sidewalls, and although you’d probably be happy enough to accept the car’s rolling comfort when judging it in isolation, you’d be unlikely to in direct comparison with that of an S-Class or A8.
Although the LS’s handling is flat, fluent and relatively agile at road speeds, its dynamic flair doesn’t survive indefinitely when it’s driven quickly on a road as testing as the Millbrook Hill Route. For a big luxury saloon, that’s no great criticism; we’d expect the poise and handling accuracy of an Audi A8 or Mercedes S-Class to deteriorate in a very similar way, although a BMW 7-Series or a Jaguar XJ might stand the test a bit better.
The LS can carry plenty of speed through corners and stays balanced, flat and on line until you’re pushing harder than you ever would in such a big car on the public road. When the handling precision fades, the car stays fundamentally stable, slipping from the front axle first, but it can run wide quite quickly if you’re too ambitious with your cornering speed. Luckily, the powertrain isn’t likely to encourage you to pour on speed too quickly as you pass an apex.