It’s 20 years since Lexus started selling cars in Britain, and to mark the fact the company has just blown the indulgent sum of £2000 acquiring itself an H-plate example of the landmark LS400 as a heritage toy. The car in question was found on eBay, being sold by a small used car dealer in southern England with 103,000 miles on the clock, a leather driver’s seat only lightly shiny with use and an interior aroma mildly redolent of minicabs, though it doesn’t look like it’s lead that hard and unloved a life.
In fact, a delve into the owner’s pack revealed a service history book brim-filled with stamps from Lexus dealerships all the way to 84,000 miles, and a sheaf of invoices, suggesting more of a no-reasonable-expense-spared approach to its upkeep.
Which had much to do with why Lexus afforded it no more than a valet and a new set of tyres before letting assorted UK hacks loose on it at the annual Society of Motor Manufacturers Test day at GM’s Millbrook proving ground, where the LS faced a day of moderately keen lapping around the challenging hill route.
Which is not the ideal milieu for the decidedly soft handling of this big saloon, whose character always tilted towards the comfort end of the spectrum. And sure enough, yacht-hits-swell body-roll and steering that simultaneously fascinates and alarms with its level of tactile disconnection made for plenty of torrid amusement through the bends, further enhanced by quite pronounced line-tightening on throttle lift-off that I don’t remember when they were new.