A powerful personality makes the Lexus LS simply one of the most unique cars in the market today – a clear winner against its much illustrious rivals
By: Somnath Chatterjee
Posted on: July 7, 2020
“Omotenashi” is perhaps the perfect term to describe the Lexus LS. It means "hospitality" but the real meaning goes way beyond that term. It is about taking care of the smallest of details while anticipating the guests’ needs before them even saying it.
This term is engrained in Japanese DNA and it also shows in some of the cars they make. More so with Lexus who has taken the meaning of this term to an altogether new stratosphere. The Lexus showroom in Delhi, where we picked up this car for review, is unlike any other car showroom that we have seen.
In fact, called a 'Guest Experience Centre', all Lexus showrooms are different, but with the common theme of being a luxurious abode replete with unique artifacts and intriguing design.
The same vibe exudes from the LS the minute you clap your eyes on it. This is Lexus at its finest and it embodies all the values that this Japanese luxury brand stands for. The original LS established Lexus as a luxury brand and spooked rivals at that time because of its refinement, quality, luxury and its value quotient. The LS, in many ways, is much like their LFA super-car as the engineers, designers and the craftsman were told to run off with their imagination. In short, the LS500h is not only a rival to the likes of the Mercedes S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8, but also Rolls-Royce. Yes, it’s that good.
However, before we proceed with the review, there is another term which I must use here - "Takumi". Takumi is a tribe of craftsmen that work on Lexus cars, where hand-made artistry is at the forefront, and that shines through the LS. The Takumi craftsmen hone their skill over time. In fact, it takes 60,000 hours to become one, and that is something the Japanese are quite proud of. Takumi craftsmen make various handcrafted pieces that go into the car.
It all starts with the grille. The massive spindle grille on the Lexus LS is by far its most talked about feature in terms of the style, but here too there is a purpose and a sense of delicate craftsmanship behind it. The grille is a work of art which is not complete without the touch of the Takumi craftsmen. Made of 'L' motifs weaved together, the grille is thing of beauty when seen in flesh.
Then you get in and you are in awe of some of the details. The door panels in most of the luxury cars are a usual amalgamation of leather, wood and seat controls. Not so in the Lexus. Instead you see hand pleated trim inspired by the Japanese art of Origami, and then you see Kiriko glass being lovingly engraved here.
You really need to see this in the flesh to appreciate the beauty in the art of cutting glass into ornamental shapes. And they are done in such a way that there is more light reflected at various angles to create stunning reflections - utterly magnificent!
Amidst all this I forget that the LS is after all...a car. A rather luxurious one at that with a Zen like ambience. The interior is dripping in leather and quality, befitting a car costing in crores. The design again is unlike anything else while taking a more extrovert approach over its 'safer' German rivals.
You have the traction control and drive modes sticking out from the instrument cluster while the dials are like the LFA. Then you shift your gaze to the massive screen while even something like the volume knob is a tactile thing of beauty. For sheer extravagance and bravado, its rivals have nothing on this.
I love the design and it is one of the best looking interiors I have ever come across. It has the requisite luxury as well with everything on-board, right from an insane sounding 23 speaker Mark Levinson audio system to ottoman seats, along with every gadget you can think of.
The LS is such an assault on your senses that you forget to actually drive the thing. When you do eventually drive it, the refinement along with the ride shames other luxury cars. It floats while I could hear the faint noise of my jeans ruffling against the leather.
While you marvel at the comfort on one hand, you then see the protruding stabs from the instrument cluster and wonder what on earth are they doing on a limo? That's the party trick as when you twist the drive mode to Sport Plus, the petrol V6 wakes up and brings in a throaty roar in the cabin. For a massive luxury car, it certainly moves with alarming dexterity. I actually forgot it’s a 5 metre plus long limousine and ended up throwing it around like it was a sports sedan.
The thing is, once I have had my fill of spirited driving, I can once again switch the Lexus into hybrid mode. And you can even glide along at low speeds in electricity. It’s as if I am driving many cars in one.
In the end, the LS500h has me hooked unlike any other luxury car. Its multiple facets and interesting personality reveals more as you unravel what concoction Lexus has cooked up here. It is a riot of slashes and curves while the interior deserves a place in a design museum. And it feels more alive than its rivals.
The LS can be best described as an acquired taste, but once hooked, there is no going back! It is quite easily the most interesting and characterful luxury car on sale today!
Available at: Lexus New Delhi 22A, Janpath Rd, Windsor Place, New Delhi, Delhi 110001