Lexus LS 500

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Being indulged with a car that offers so much opulence, power, smoothness, spaciousness, dynamic ride comfort and attention to detail is a rare treat indeed.

By RUBIN VAN NIEKERK

Built on a new rear-drive platform the coupé-like silhouette appears smaller than in reality and the new 310kW twin turbocharged V6 adds wings to that illusion.

Blistering acceleration defies Newton’s laws and the unique 10-speed transmission is absolutely charming.

The concept of “omotenashi” or the hospitality principle draws on the skills of master craftsmen to reflect human-centred engineering and attention to detail. This human touch gives the Lexus a soulfulness that sets it apart from its competitors.

The chassis is based on the Global Architecture – Luxury (GA-L) platform that allowed an extended wheelbase, a spacious interior, balanced weight distribution as well as the lowest centre of gravity in its class.

Advanced new seat design offers benchmark levels of adjustment and sophisticated new massage functions. A 12,3-inch multi-media screen, head-up display with segment-leading size, rear-seat DVD entertainment and the finest quality Mark Levinson 23-speaker QLI Reference Surround Sound system contributes to a magnificent interior ambiance.

Massive power without sacrificing fuel economy represents sizeable gains compared to the V8 unit featured in the outgoing LS. Noise levels are totally unobtrusive even towards the engine’s red line, but you can tailor powertrain response and feel by selecting Normal to Sport drive modes to experience a touch of the exhaust note. Transmission shift times rival those of dual-clutch transmissions and ten closely-spaced ratios ensure optimal response. Paddle control can be used, but I preferred to use the advanced electronic control system, which anticipates the driver’s input, by monitoring acceleration, braking and lateral G-forces.

A high-mounted multilink system has been developed for both the front and rear suspension, but the front system uses double-ball joints for both the upper and lower control arms, which absorbs tiny movements caused by driver inputs or the road surface.

The signature spindle grille has an intricate mesh design with 5 000 individual surfaces which took highly skilled CAD modellers several months to produce. The LS is equipped with air suspension which provides a Premium Access function that automatically raises the low-slung sedan by 40mm to an ideal 555mm hip-height in just four seconds when the vehicle is unlocked. Once on board and the engine is switched on, the car returns to its regular ride height.

Soft ambient lighting makes the armrests appear to float next to the door panels, while tactile elements such as leather, precise stitch-work and detailed metal and wood accents add to the welcoming atmosphere. Cabin illumination is inspired by the soft glow of traditional Japanese andon lanterns and light sources located behind the door trim panels and armrests provides indirect, downward illumination that adds to the sense of spaciousness. A truly incredible car that deserves special recognition in automotive history.

www.lexus.co.za

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