If there was one thing that none of us expected to happen, it was that a hybrid powered, 2.3-ton luxury barge – the Lexus LS 500h – would clock the 7th fastest lap time in this test. Even now, it seems surprising for a car that’s very much the epitome of luxury in its segment. And it’s a worthy achievement indeed, especially considering its size and bulk.
A large part of this spectacular performance on track stems from the fact that the LS’s centre of gravity is quite low, with the batteries and their assorted hybrid hardware mounted low in the chassis. Also, the 3.5-litre V6 offers beautiful performance, aided, undoubtedly, by the transmission, which – thanks to clever technology – functions as a 10-speed gearbox. And that’s to say nothing of its chassis balance, which really surprised everyone. Think about it – a 2.3-ton sedan that requires little effort to get its tail out on the track – a clear indication of the LS’s brilliant setup and the direct influence of the racing exploits of the Akio Toyoda, the current President of Toyota.
The LS stands out in other aspects too. It commands attention with its appealing and sophisticated design. The interior, without any reservation, is by far the best amongst all the cars that we tested this year. The levels of quality, the fit-and-finish, the isolation from the outside world and, most importantly, the attention to detail – some might even call it obsession to detail – are simply stunning. In fact, when you consider some of the touches in this car – such as the Kiriko, Japanese handmade glass, trim pieces – the level of quality and finish achieved is almost unbelievable.
Given all this, it’s no surprise that the LS did quite well in this test. It received the highest points for quality, comfort, space and refinement. The only two aspects where the LS falls behind is its high price compared to its chief rivals – not really fair, given the extra equipment the LS has. But, then again, this is an aspect that’s always of high importance in the Indian market – even at this level. Of course, don’t forget that the LS competes with the Mercedes S-Class – which is about as established as any rival will ever get. Let’s just say that the LS is only for those truly in the know.