Lexus LS460 SE
13 September 2006
For all the talk of green fleet policies and cost-saving large family cars, there will always be those who demand the ultimate in comfort and convenience. The new Lexus LS460 caters for company directors who want an intriguing, beautifully built alternative to a Merc S-class, BMW 7-series or Jaguar XJ8.
The car is designed to complement the IS large family saloon and the executive GS in the Lexus range, and is likely to cost from around £60,000. There'll be hybrid - the LS600h - and long wheelbase versions in due course, but there are no plans for a diesel.
The LS is elegant, contemporary and much more appealing than the ugly old model. And while it still lacks the presence of an S-class or an A8, some directors might regard that as a good thing.
|Category:|| Luxury |
|Prices:|| £60,000-£65,000 |
|Key rival:|| Mercedes S-class|
Inside, everything is sensibly laid out and the attention to detail is terrific. The centrally-mounted touchscreen controller, which manages everything from the navigation system to the climate control and stereo, is superb. Simple and intuitive, it's much easier to operate than the similar systems found in rivals from German manufacturers.
There are no shortage of goodies. Sensors dotted around help prepare the safety systems for an accident and there's a monitoring device to warn the driver if they're looking away or falling asleep. You can even opt for a system that will allow the car to park itself - pull up next to a space and it does the rest.
The cabin is spacious, comfortable and beautifully built, but it still lacks the sense of occasion offered by an A8. Nor is the quality of the woods and plastic a match for the Audi.
Just one engine is offered for now - a new 4.6-litre V8. With 375PS on offer, it's not lacking performance. Eerily quiet and smooth, the V8 is ably assisted by the world's first 8-speed automatic gearbox in a car.
The LS is less overtly sporting than its main rivals, but it's still a competent companion on twisting backroads. It is much better to drive than its predecessor and the ride has cushioned, cosseting feel. This car is an excellent long distance tool. But it won't be cheap to run. Average consumption is just 24.5mpg and although Lexus has a peerless reputation for customer service, it remains to be seen whether RVs will match those of an S-class.
The LS460 is undoubtedly a fine vehicle, but the absence of a diesel counts against it and a Merc S-class remains a better all round package.