Lexus LS 500h 2018

Does this model compare to the A8, S-Class and 7 Series?

30 years on since the first Lexus LS arrived on the scene – this was recognised as a Japanese take on a luxury car, and, almost as important as offering a premium customer experience should be. Its sophistication is showcased through the model’s impeccable build quality – with such a label, it has been compared to other premium German names in the market: the BMW 7 series or the Mercedes S-Class.
It’s been noted that there will be a choice of transmissions – although it’s been released that it will be offered with a four-wheel drive as an option in the middle of the range. Its hybrid mixes a 295bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with a pair of electric motors, this gives a combined output of 354bhp. Overall, this would allow you to achieve a 0-62mph time for the four-wheel drive model of just 5.4 seconds… wow!
The efficiency figures show that the LS manages the combined economy of 39.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 161g/km – however, the Audi A8 manages 145g/km in four-wheel-drive 3.0-litre diesel specification.

Lexus is allowing us the pleasure of four trim levels in the UK. The ‘entry-level’ LS 500h gets 20-inch alloys, triple-LED headlights, sat-nav, 20-way power adjustment on the front seats, dual-zone climate control and a 12-speaker stereo. This version is available in rear-wheel drive only, and you can’t order it with air suspension; it’s steel springs or nothing. 

Luxury offered with air suspension as standard, and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive - and you can add heating and ventilation on the front and rear seats along with a 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio system. Also, you can get a finer grade of leather upholstery and even more adjustability on the front seats - plus something called Climate Concierge, which uses infra-red technology to monitor the body temperatures of all the car’s occupants and adjusts its settings to consider factors like sunlight shining into one side of the cabin.

As its name suggests, F-Sport brings motorsport-themed styling and cabin tweaks, including perforated leather on the steering wheel, a fresh interpretation of Lexus’s ‘spindle front grille’, gloss-black detailing on the side skirts and boot lid, and a different design of 20-inch alloys. This version (rear-drive only) also gets greater integration of the car’s steering into Lexus’s Dynamics Integrated Management, with control of the variable ratio steering and the rear-wheel steering. 

At the top of the list comes Premier. It is available only with four-wheel drive in the UK - but Lexus expects it to account for as much as 45 percent of sales anyway. As you’d expect, it gathers up all the standard equipment, bringing Shiatsu massage functionality to the front and rear passengers, plus a spectacular ottoman function for one of the rear seats. This lowers the front passenger seat headrest and smoothly moves the seat out of the way, freeing up over a metre of legroom.

Premier models also get Lexus’s latest suite of safety features, called Lexus Safety System+A. These include the ability to keep the car in its lane while you keep a feather-light touch on the steering wheel, and to switch between lanes if you hold the indicator in its ‘halfway down’ position. There’s also a more sophisticated pedestrian avoidance system that can swerve and brake to avoid a collision, plus a reversing monitor that can tell the difference between pedestrians and static objects and intervene if it thinks you’re going to hit someone.

On the road, Lexus’s dynamic make-up falls, as has so often been the case, somewhere between the outright comfort of the S-Class and the taut body control of the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series. Our test car was a four-wheel-drive Premier, and the air suspension did a reasonable job of smoothing out most of the bumps there were on the soothingly smooth roads of Lexus’s test route.
The price as expected is set as high as £82,595 - that’s if you want the Luxury trim. This is a total £13k up on the A8. Although, if you wanted to upgrade to the Premier trim, this can lead to it being £97,995.

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