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£72,345 when new
What’s the elevator pitch? Let’s boil Lexus down to one word: different. In a market dominated by the Mercedes S-Class, successfully disrupted by the Tesla Model S, and populated by heavy hitters like the BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ and Porsche Panamera, you can’t be backwards about coming forwards. The new LS 500h refines Lexus’ aesthetic willfulness – there are 5000 separate elements in the ‘spindle’ grille – and revels in the fact that this is a defiantly Japanese product. ‘Brave design’ is how Lexus itself describes one of its USPs, though that’s an adjective that can cut both ways depending on emphasis. Close to 30 years since the original LS 400 gave the Germans the willies, Chief Engineer Toshio Asahi notes that “luxury is now about experiences rather than possessing luxury items, so Lexus has shifted from being a luxury car brand to a lifestyle brand that offers amazing experiences”. Lexus doesn’t have customers, it has Experiential Masters. Does it indeed. It would appear that even the most honorable Japanese automotive engineers now speak fluent marketing babble.