LEXUS LS500 F SPORT
Japan’s luxe limo gains V6 boost
BUYING INTO THE LIMO class is like going to your high-school reunion. Except, the former is a purchase that success in life affords you, while the latter seems to be an event to showcase what you can now afford. It’s all about making a bold statement. The fifth-generation Lexus LS certainly does that. Toyota’s luxury offshoot has been a pioneer of bold design for some time now, and the $190,500 LS500 F Sport lives up to the billing. Yet, behind the oversized spindle grille is a first for Lexus and its sedan range – a turbo-petrol V6. The unit is the V35A-FTS 3.5-litre twin-turbo six with 310kW and 600Nm, which is kept cool via two intercoolers. Gone is the hybrid 5.0-litre V8, yet the new undersquare, 60-degree V6 has enough grunt to get the 2245kg limo to 100km/h in five seconds. However, it never really feels as fast as the badge alludes and the muted V6 soundtrack gives off, ahem, Camry vibes... Peak power is developed at 6000rpm, so it needs some revs to really get up and go. Although, there is a swell of torque down low (16004800rpm) and the boosted six has a tractable, linear demeanour. It’s all about staid motoring; 600Nm certainly facilitates that. So does the 10-speed torque-converter auto (shared with the LC500). You can shift with the paddles, but it’s generally best left to its own devices. Built on the new GA-L rear-drive platform, the F Sport gains rear-wheel steering and adaptive air suspension. The LS manages fore and aft pitch unbelievably well, so much so that you might not notice you’ve driven over a speed bump. It settles impeccably and manages body roll impressively. Sharp imperfections can catch the suspension out, though. The run-flat tyres and 20-inch wheels don’t help. The F Sport can never really escape its size, even with rear steering, and the traction/stability controls are overzealous. The Sport modes ramp things up, but it never feels performance orientated. It’s a cruiser. Despite ergonomic flaws, tight rear headroom and ‘that’ trackpad, the cabin is an utterly opulent affair. It’s a design delight with plush materials and a symphonic 23-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system. Opt for the Sports Luxury variant and you get 22-way adjustable power rear seats with seven massage programs. Brilliant. A performance car the LS500 is not. The F Sport designation is really just a design-driven spec level that offers sporting pretence to a package that succeeds in style and luxury. It’s also an interesting alternative to the Germans. Oh, and there are certainly worse ways to make an entrance.
BELOW Driver-orientated dash features a 12.3-inch infotainment screen and the most exquisite volume dial in any car