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2018-06-05 19:00

Lexus is taking on the likes of the mighty Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series locally with a luxury, sporty flagship sedan.

Lately, Lexus has been producing some radically designed cars and its latest model to grace South African shores is no different - the LS 500.

LC, RC, RX, NX... Lexus is pushing out some rather radically designed cars in recent times and its latest model to reach South African shores is no different - the LS 500.

And price? Well, let’s just get this out of the way – it retails for R2.1-million. And yes, I understand that reading that price out loud will be immediately followed by variations of "...more than R2-million for a Lexus!?" in SA.

So, with well established German rivals what has Lexus' flagship have to set it apart? In short, craftsmanship and incredible attention to detail.


The range

Inside and out, the new LS reflects its uniquely Japanese identity and approach to luxury; yet the LS was designed to be the brand's latest global car, with availability in about 90 countries.

GALLERY: 2018 Lexus LS 500 

Locally, we will have three models available; the apex of the range, the LS 500 and the LS 500 F Sport which will be available later in the year, as well as the LS 500 hybrid available from 2019.

                                                                          


Design

While its German competitors tend to be conservative, at least in terms of design, Lexus continues to push the envelope with its creative love-it-or-hate-it approach to vehicle aesthetics. Curvaceous-lines, huge grille, subtle creases along its flanks... If you want a large sedan that has plenty of poise on the road, the expressive LS 500 will certainly help you stand out from the Bavarian pack.


F-Sport headed for SA

Distinct visual enhancements:

  • The grille and front air inlets feature a mesh design which is a refinement of the design used exclusively by all Lexus F Sport models.
  • Black plating is applied to the grille frame, rocker molding accents and boot garnish
  • An F Sport-exclusive 20" cast aluminum-alloy wheel is standard.
  • F Sport badging is featured on the front fenders and boot.                                                                             
                                              

Inside

Inside, the LS 500 represents the pinnacle of Lexus interiors yet. The attention to detail is apparent throughout. From its floating armrests, layered door panels and high-tech controls, it's clear the cabin was meticulously crafted.

I mentioned craftsmanship before and this couldn't be more evident than in their 'Kiroko' glass interior ornamentation.

Have a look at what it takes to create one piece of this amazing cabin inset:


Lexus hopes to move away from "machined mainstream" products by creating automotive art (at least in its cabins).

And this is what it takes to create a bespoke LS 500 cabin:


V6 power


Engine details

  • All-new twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 engine designed specifically for the LS. 
  • Indicative of the more dynamic approach being taken by Lexus, it offers V8-level power without sacrificing fuel economy, while minimising noise and vibration.
  • First-ever 10-speed auto transmission in a premium passenger car.
  • 310kw and 600Nm - sizeable gains over the current LS model’s V8.
  • DOHC 24-valve twin turbocharged V6 with intake VVT-iE and exhaust VVT-i continuously Variable Valve Timing with intelligence and D-4S direct-to-cylinder injection system plus secondary port injectors.

Drive modes: 

1. Comfort mode: Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) damping is adjusted to reduce shock transmitted from uneven road surfaces.

2. Custom mode: Allows the driver to create a unique profile for the powertrain, chassis and air conditioning functions. Example: ECO powertrain with SPORT chassis:

3. Sport S mode: On hills or winding roads, and anytime the driver needs response and power, a gear ratio is selected that will give a higher engine rpm.

4. Sport S+ mode: The powertrain control is changed to realise even greater drive force and response performance. AVS damping is increased to suppress changes in vehicle posture when cornering, as well as the Electric Power Steering and Air Conditioning System.

What’s it like to drive?

You’re acutely aware of the 300kW on tap but power delivery is as smooth as silk, gear changes are imperceptible and it’s overall a fantastic cruiser made for a lazy Sunday afternoon along Camps Bay or Franschhoek Pass in Cape Town.

It’s more agile than its sedan-design leads you to believe, but it’s clearly not built to be taking on mountain bends at speed.

                                                                         Image: Motorpress

It’s stately, has an amazing presence on the road and incredibly practical for families. You’ll love the massage functions while driving and your passengers, especially those at the rear, will love their LCD screens where they can view multimedia.

The ride quality is one of the best in the class and it has loads of features as standard compared to the optional kit offered by rivals.

 

Overall

If the brief was to deliver a sporty executive sedan with all the attention-to-detail a Takumi master can muster, then Lexus has nailed it. Will it be enough to sway brand-loyal South African buyers away from Bavarian sedans and towards its flagship? 

Even Lexus understands this won’t be a volume seller locally.  

Despite Lexus' sterling reputation for quality, showroom service, and great performance - especially its 10-speed transmission and engine, the LS 500 will most likely be on a list of underrated performance sedans.

It’s a lot of hard-earned money the Japanese automakers want you to part with for a luxury car which does not flaunt a Mercedes, BMW or Audi badge. 

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