TG's favourite Japanese design guru unleashes new concept for the road...
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The Top Gear car review:Lexus LS
For:When was the last time you saw one of these on the road?
Against:Expensive, should really be more economical
600h L 5.0 Premier 4dr CVT Auto
What we say:
A dinosaur from the masters of hybrid tech. Beautifully built, but feels old hat alongside newer, more economical rivals
What is it?
Five-litre V8, four-wheel-drive, 155mph, huge. Easy target. Hang on, though, it’s a hybrid. With an electric motor. Both black AND white? How to baffle the Daily Mail.
The LS, which hasn’t been facelifted for a while, is available in just the two specs. The cheapest non-hybrid short-wheelbase 460 weighs in at £72k, and the long-wheelbase 600h tops £100k. Ouch.
The long-wheelbase-only LS600h is four-wheel drive, has a CVT gearbox and a Hybrid Synergy Drive electric motor. Despite all the cool stuff, it handles like a dead badger. Approach a corner at anything like an enthusiastic speed and it understeers itself straight into the arms of its myriad electronic minders and bongs mournfully at the mistreatment.
But it is quite fast. Horsepower tots up to a grand total of 439bhp and 384lb ft of torque, which, allied to an E-CVT gearbox, means a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds. The shorter wheelbase and absence of a hybrid system means the 460 a lot lighter, and therefore a bit quicker despite the 57bhp power deficit. 0-62mph takes 5.7 seconds. Shame it doesn’t handle any better.
On the inside
Not built but hewn. Not made but forged. If all cars were built this well, the car business would cease to exist because no-one would ever need a new car. There are DVDs and seats that ventilate and massage, ‘ottoman’ seating that reclines almost into a flat bed in the rear, multi-zone climate, a self-park function - even the electric drive system allows for silent, perfectly ramped gatherings of speed. It’s surreal, astonishing and bloody brilliant. The design does feel a bit old hat now, though.
The 600h will manage around 30mpg, emits just 199g/km but is still taxed hard. It also weighs in at insurance group 50 and just isn’t going to be a £55 oil service, even with the best will in the world and using pattern parts from a Vauxhall Vectra. Don’t expect it to be as kind on your wallet as it is to the pandas. The 460 isn’t any better - expect mid-Twenties mpg.