Very few automakers in the world have the ability to take a risk and introduce a product that's more than just an automobile. Take for instance Lexus, the luxury Japanese carmaker who believe cars can be an artwork, a form of expression. Their flagship sedan, Lexus LS 500h not only emotes the highest level of craftsmanship, but is known to deliver exhilarating performance despite being a hybrid vehicle. We recently took the Lexus LS 500h for spin to understand how different this sedan is from other offerings. Here’s our Lexus LS 500h Test Drive Review-
Takumi Craftsmanship, that’s a term often used to describe Japanese artwork which is known to be bold, beautiful, and intricate and if there’s one car that is an epitome of Takumi craftsmanship, it has to be the Lexus LS 500h. The uber-luxurious sedan from the house of Lexus gets a flowing silhouette with low center of gravity giving it a sensual and appealing look.
The Lexus LS 500h is a huge car sitting at 5.2-metres long, and such dimensions can go otherwise if not given a proper thought. What engineers at Lexus has done is add a huge grille that absorbs all your attention every time you look as this piece of art and forget the length. The narrow LED headlamps pointing towards the grille gets a slit-like 3-eye design. Even the fog lamps gets a tasteful design.
How deep the designers went to enhance the beauty of the LS can be judged by the way rear view mirror looks. The sculpted unit looks sharp and there’s a space between the mirror and A-pillar that not only enhances the design, but also aerodynamic performance. Speaking of which, even the 20-Inch cast alloy are designed for noise-reduction and performance. The rear gets large wraparound LED taillamps connected via chrome lining and has a distinctive styling.
The Takumi craftsmanship is carried forward inside the cabin as well making the Lexus LS 500h stand out of the crowd. All those lines on the AC vents, stitching on door panels and hand made elements on door pads adds to a unique charm. While there are multiple color options, we drove the model with black cabin and Tuscan wine dashboard.
The thing to remember here is that this model was launched in 2018 and hasn’t been updated ever since and so, it has certain features that are old. Case in point, the large horizontal infotainment system is not touchscreen. There’s a CD player, but no wireless charger. The sunroof is not panoramic. Even the button design both on steering and dash is old school.
However to compensate all these negatives is a Mark Levinson 3D surround sound system with 23 speakers that will blow you away with the sound experience. Then is the unique positioning of drive and traction selector knob right above the instrument panel that elevates the cabin experience. The cockpit styled cabin also gets a large tunnel bifurcating driver and passenger seats. On the tunnel is a large touchpad that is used to operate the infotainment system and takes time to get used to.
Cars like LS 500h are made for people who would spend most of the time at the rear seat, driven around by chauffeur. The rear seat behind front passenger seat can be converted into a flatbed and gets a maximum of 1022 mm of foot room. Both the rear seats gets individual entertainment system including 11.6-inch display that automatically adjust with the seat position.
The rear seats, along with front seats also get massage function for relaxation and has multiple options to choose from. However, the air bladders integrated in the seats make a lot of hissing noise while giving massage that sometimes irritate you. Apart from that, the seats are very comfortable with enough all around cushion and has both seat ventilation as well as heating functions. Since Lexus LS 500h is all about comfort, it also gets vehicle height adjustment function to raise or lower the vehicle for easy ingress and egress.
Lexus LS 500h is not merely a good looking car but can bring the hidden F1 driver inside you once you push the throttle. All you have to do is put it in Sports+ mode to harness all the 354 horses out of the massive 3.5-litre engine. However, for the environment friendly, the 'h' in LS 500h means this is a hybrid vehicle as well and you can drive at certain speeds in full EV mode.
The engine is massively refined and aggressive at the same time and there’s an artificial grunt generated through speakers if you are driving it in S+ mode. However there’s nothing artificial about the performance itself. To match the performance is a Multi Stage Hybrid 10-speed auto shift that synchronizes with the engine to deliver scintillating performance for an otherwise comfort sedan.
Not only engine, but the whole suspension setup and steering input is incredibly well defined to meet your performance needs. The four wheel steering and suspension provides excellent stability during high-speed driving. Also the fact that it’s a rear wheel drive vehicle and you sit quite low adding to driving fun, which is more track inclined and quite surprising for a luxury car. All this performance also means the ground clearance is pretty low at 147 mm and you have to be extra cautious while driving on our roads.
In terms of safety features, the Lexus LS 500h gets pedestrian protection as the hood instantly pops up in case of a collision to help absorb the impact force. Then there’s a blind spot detector for city driving and LED cornering lamps for night driving. There are 14 airbags, vehicle stability control, hill start assist among others to keep you safe.
In my honest opinion, the Lexus LS 500h is a welcome demise from usual luxury German cars and if you're are a bit experimental and not a brand snob, buying this beauty should be on your priority list. Only that, you have shell out Rs 1.82 crore to buy this piece of art, that happens to be an uber-luxurious sedan. All-in-all, the Lexus LS 500h is a car made for the kings and queens, for people who will keep artisan factor above price and competition.