Lexus LS (2018-present)

Hybrid power makes the Lexus LS luxury saloon frugal and opulent

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Sleek and sporty design
Hybrid power is an efficient diesel alternative
Lavish interior

Weaknesses 

Curved design restricts rear headroom
Hesitant gearbox
Batteries restrict room in the boot
Best New Discount

Lexus LS Saloon 500h 3.5 premier 4dr cvt auto [pleat]

Total RRP £105,580

Your quote £100,725

You Save £4,855

In the luxury car market, there are some long-established big beasts, in the shape of the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class. Factor in the Jaguar XJ as well and you have a strong line-up of sophisticated limos. To break their grip on the market will take some car.

The Lexus LS is not that car – and, to the Japanese brand’s credit, it’s not even trying to beat the Europeans at their own game. Instead, since the first LS was launched in 1989, it has tried to do something different, either in terms of design or, more recently, in how it’s powered.

The latest car is no exception. Design-wise, it’s gone down the route of adopting the current trend for saloons to be sportier, with coupé-like rears where the roof swoops down towards the back of the car. The LS is certainly a striking-looking car, with its large grille (which tends to divide opinion) and air scoops, LED headlight array, 20-inch wheels and wraparound rear lights. The panels are generally unfussy, so it does exude an air of sporty luxury.

The interior is equally luxurious, with leather on many of the surfaces, combining with wood (and, if you want to spend an extra £7,600, artisan glass and origami-pleated door panels) to create a comfortable interior that is fitted together to the highest standards.

There’s also lots of space in the LS, but taller passengers might find the swooping roof limiting headroom in the rear. This can be offset (in the range-topping Premier version) by a rear ‘executive’ seat that reclines and has a fold-out ottoman to support the legs. There is also the option of Shiatsu massage seats in the front and rear, along with a Climate Concierge that can detect the body temperature of each of the occupants and adjust the heating and cooling accordingly.

The dashboard screen is an imposing 12.3inches wide but the Lexus touchpad controller is slow to react, a little clunky and has too many complicated menus. It isn’t as easy to use as the systems you'll find in an Audi or BMW, which are controlled by dials.

The boot also loses out in capacity, thanks to the positioning of the batteries for the electric motor in the rear, with the 430 litres some way short of rivals.

The engine/gearbox combination is a little disappointing, with a delay between pressing the accelerator and chnaging into the right gear which contributes to the lack of satisfaction felt when driving the LS. At low speed in town, when the electric motor takes over, the LS is smooth and quiet, while at motorway cruising speeds it’s also pretty accomplished, with only a little wind and road noise intruding in the cabin. However, any road with tight bends show up the LS’s failings, as does attempting to hurry the car along.

The steering is consistent and direct but the weight of the car (thanks in part to the batteries) along with the hesitancy of the engine and gearbox, means that it doesn’t have the nimbleness or agility of something like the BMW 7 Series, nor does it have that car's engagement. That said, this is a large executive car, so the urban and highway situations are likely to be where it will spend most of its time, meaning its deficiencies are likely to remain hidden from most owners.

The ride quality is helped by the inclusion of an air suspension (for all but the lowest trim level), which does help provide a floatiness at high speed. Our test drive was conducted of smooth roads, which didn’t stretch the capabilities of the suspension in the way that British surfaces will. We’ll be interested to see if the LS stays composed in the face of speed bumps and potholes.

The Lexus LS is different to its European rivals, which is a good thing in a car market that is often far too homogeneous. However, with the introduction of the BMW 740e, and Mercedes-Benz S500 e and S300h, there are now competitor cars with hybrid systems, which take on the LS 500h’s main USP. Diesel variants of most of its rivals also undermine the LS’s case for economy.

Lexus isn’t aiming to sell a fraction of the volume of the S-Class, to take one example, which is just as well. However, while it can’t match its rivals in many departments, it is still an accomplished car, with style and interior quality particularly strong areas. For buyers looking for something different to the norm, the LS certainly offers an alternative.

Last Updated 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018 - 14:15

Key facts 

Warranty: 
3 years / 60,000 miles
Boot size: 
430 litres
Width: 
1900mm
Length: 
5235mm
Height: 
1460mm
Tax: 
£200 to £500 in first year, £140 thereafter

Lexus LS Prices

500h 3.5 4dr cvt auto 2wd

  • Doors 4
  • Fuel petrol/electric hybrid
  • Economy 43.5mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £69,369

You could save up to: £3221

Lexus LS F-Sport

500h 3.5 f-sport 4dr cvt auto 2wd

  • Doors 4
  • Fuel petrol/electric hybrid
  • Economy 43.5mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £76,399

You could save up to: £3591

Lexus LS Luxury

500h 3.5 luxury 4dr cvt auto

  • Doors 4
  • Fuel petrol/electric hybrid
  • Economy 39.8mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £78,875

You could save up to: £3705

500h 3.5 luxury 4dr cvt auto 2wd

  • Doors 4
  • Fuel petrol/electric hybrid
  • Economy 43.5mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £76,399

You could save up to: £3591

Lexus LS Premier

500h 3.5 premier 4dr cvt auto

  • Doors 4
  • Fuel petrol/electric hybrid
  • Economy 39.8mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £93,505

You could save up to: £4475

500h 3.5 premier 4dr cvt auto [aniline pack]

  • Doors 4
  • Fuel petrol/electric hybrid
  • Economy 39.8mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £94,830

You could save up to: £4545

500h 3.5 premier 4dr cvt auto [pleat]

  • Doors 4
  • Fuel petrol/electric hybrid
  • Economy 39.8mpg
  • Gears automatic

Starting at: £100,725

You could save up to: £4855