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First Drive: Lexus LS460 – on sale now

Lexus

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Review

Lexus is no longer the choice for people who have fallen out with their Mercedes or BMW dealer. It’s rapidly becoming an aspirational purchase.

With the new LS460, Lexus is hoping to make its rivals’ position even more uncomfortable.

The LS is the company’s range topper, with a lengthy list of claimed world firsts with confusing acronyms: AOD (Advanced Obstacle Detection), DMS (Driver Monitoring System), ESA (Emergency Steering Assist) and RPCS (Rear Pre-Crash Safety). LKA (Lane-Keep Assist) is a segment first.

Trying to explain all this technology will put the customer’s mind (and the salesperson’s) into a spin. Suffice to say, this is a car that puts safety first. It’ll do everything in its power to prevent you from crashing, but if you do it’ll cocoon you in cotton wool.

The LS is all about luxury. It’s not a driver’s car. That’s not to say it can’t shift – the 4.6-litre 375bhp V8 engine zips from 0-62mph in 5.7secs and onto 155mph – but the emphasis is on comfort.

Comfort means floating on an air suspension in cushioned seats while the automatic gearbox glides unnoticed through its eight speeds (another world first). Wind, road and engine noise barely intrude.

Dealers are expected to sell just over 500 LS models this year, with pricing starting at £57,000 – more than £10,000 less than the Mercedes S500. A hybrid version, the LS600h, will go on sale in a few months’ time.

Price: £57,000-71,000
Engines: 4.6-litre V8: 375bhp at 6,400rpm; 364lb ft at 4,100rpm
Performance: 0-62mph 5.7sec; top speed 155mph
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Efficiency: 25.4mpg, 261g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £23,125 (36%)
Rivals: Audi A8 4.2, BMW 740i, Mercedes-Benz S500
Strengths: Comfort, safety, luxury
Weaknesses: Bland interior
Opportunity: Halo effect for Lexus
Threat: Too much technology?
USP: LAC – Luxury And Comfort

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