In a world where crossovers and SUVs are king, Lexus has surely had a comfortable reign over the last few years with its RX and LX. But when it comes to big, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedans, it’s got its work cut out for it. Mercedes-Benz has the mighty — and very definitive — S-Class, and BMW has the 7-Series. Then there are Bentley, Audi and many others fighting for a slice of that lucrative pie.
So when the new 2018 Lexus LS was announced, everyone waited with bated breath to see if it fluffed more feathers than the iconic LS400 did in 1989 at the Detroit Auto Show.
The good news is, it has. If the devil’s in the details, the new fifth-generation 2018 Lexus LS500 is indeed wickedly stylish. From the front, the prominent spindle grilles and thin bladed headlights are kept in line with the current design language. Look to the side however, and you’ll find the sharp, creased aesthetic is now replaced with softer, more fluid lines. It’s a very sleek vehicle; Lexus is really going after the powerhouse Porsche Panamera here with its redesigned rear glass and downward-curved D-pillar instead of the usual three-box shape.
Under the fresh but dramatic sheetmetal sits not a V8, but a V6 instead. The first ever twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre version is heavily tuned for torque production, and produces almost 600Nm of pure exhilaration with 416 horses of power. This is 30hp and 102Nm more than the previous LS460’s larger V8. Acceleration? Nought to 100kph will only take 4.6 seconds. The LC’s spirited handling is retained in the LS thanks to the same front and rear multilink suspension setup. Optional air springs will automatically raise the sedan for easier entry and exit via an easy access mode.
Lexus might have serious competition performance-wise, but inside, it’s in a class of its own. The new Lexus LS keeps its reputation intact with supple leather across the cabin, accompanied by a sculpted dashboard design that’s highly customisable with wood trims that would tickle the fancy of even the most discerning lumberjacks.
The ambient lighting that gently illuminates all these is inspired by Japanese lanterns — a salute to its heritage. Cocooning you within the cabin are door panels that incorporate detailed speaker grilles and decadent wood inlays. There’s enough to convince you it’s a worthy S-Class rival.
If your ultimate dream is the LFA, you’ll be pleased to know that the LS’ twist knobs for drive mode and stability control setting are both mounted on top of the gauge pod a la the supercar. Like most luxury sedans, the LS sees packages that include massage functions, heating, and cooling for seats — god forbid you go to work without these little luxuries.
(All images: Lexus)