The new Lexus LS is your own personal limousine

Not everyone will love the new Lexus LS.

But that's the point.

The new flagship of the Lexus lineup is unashamedly Japanese and the most convincing limousine ever from the brand.

The interior is the prime example. No one could accuse the shapes and sweeps of copying any other brand.

Lexus is clearly embracing its Japanese heritage with the LS. Only in recent years has the company realised that as a strength when it comes to design and details – and, consequently, played it up.

Something extra

All up there are seven "ornamentation" options that add up to $9880 to the sharp $190,500 price.

Which each is an acquired taste – some moreso than others – the attention to detail is impeccable.

The stitched leather around the cubbyhole-like instrument cluster – it's actually a customisable colour screen in lieu of traditional gauges – is the prime example.

And it continues through to the open pore wood finishes and sumptuous leather.


Split personality

The LS is a car of multiple dispositions.

Yes, it's a four-door sedan, but Lexus has tried to jazz up the traditional sedan shape with a lower roof line and sleeker profile.

It's all about injecting some sportiness into a staid shape – and it's possible courtesy of a new architecture underpinning the car.

Easy riding

At the same time Lexus has some SUV thinking in the LS.

Pull up to alight and you can push a button to raise the body by 40mm in four seconds, making for easier entry and egress.

That may not seem like much, but having the seat closer to where you're standing makes it more of a slide than a dive.

Stretching out

Whether you're up front or back, the LS has loads of space.

In the rear, activating the front seat fold button from the rear touchscreen of the Sports Luxury is like jumping from economy to business class.

The seat slides and tilts to its furthest-most point, in turn rendering the front passenger seat unusable. But it turns a large spacious back seat into a massive one.

You can then tilt the rear seat back – not quite to a full flat bed – and raise the ottoman for a temporary bed on wheels.

Vanity fair

Check your hair with the mirror that folds out of the roof before activating the Shiatsu massage function, complete with a pre-programmed "full body refresh".

Up front, occupants can choose between five pre-programmed "seat refresh" modes – centripetal, centrifugal, upper body, lower body and lumbar – and you can adjust it between five intensity settings.

If that's not enough then the "spot heater" is sure to alleviate any knots or twists.

Huffing and puffing

Japanese brands have been slow to the turbocharged party.

But Lexus has arrived in a 310kW rush with the new 3.4-litre twin turbo V6 in the LS500.

Combined with 600Nm of torque on tap from just 1600rpm it makes for an effortless drive. Combined with a 10-speed automatic it makes for easy acceleration, scrabbling to 100km/h in as little as 5.0 seconds.

Fuel use isn't spectacular, at 9.5 litres per 100km.

But those with one eye on the fuel bills can opt for the LS500h, the "h" denoting hybrid. It pairs a non-turbo 3.5-litre V6 with an electric motor, for 220kW and 350Nm.

Performance isn't as strong as the turbo alternative, but fuel use drops to an impressive 6.6L/100km.

Listen up

Lexus reset the benchmark when it came to quiet cabins in the 1990s.

And the latest LS continues the trend.

Double glazed glass keeps all that pesky wind and tyre noise on the outside, while those inside remain relaxed and composed.

That said, the V6 engine has a decent sound to it when you select Sport+, which also makes for smarter downchanges and better throttle response, as well as a sharper sound amplified through the speakers.

More grunt for your buck

It's no V8, but there's a slightly beefier character in keeping with the overall flavour.

All up there are seven drive modes – Comfort, Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport+, Snow and a customisable mode – allowing tailoring of suspension, steering and throttle response.

Audiophiles will also love the sound the LS makes, inside the cabin, at least.

Leveraging Lexus's relationship with top-end audio brand Mark Levinson the company has injected 2400 Watts pumping through 23 speakers, making for a beautiful, rich sound.

It's among the best in any new car.

Drive time

The LS rides on 20-inch wheels and tyres, which provide great cornering grip.

The more you wind up the pace the more you realise the LS is more luxury cruiser than sports sedan.

The supple suspension allows the body to lean in bends – the F Sport, with its active stabilisers to counter exactly that, promises better dynamics – and the steering provides little in the way of meaningful feedback to the driver.

Throw some lumpy corners into the equation and the stability control flickers into action.

The top-of-the-range Sports Luxury misses out on active stabiliser bars of the F Sport, instead picking up a more intense focus on rear seat comfort.