Mention "Luxury Sedan" to any Singaporean, and the reply you get, is "Mercedes Benz S Class?". Thats right, brand plays a rather important role to many of us here in Singapore. So much so that you will find the renowned brand of Mercedes, being the benchmark for the rest of the Luxury Sedans out there. I have not heard of anyone, whom interested in a Luxury Sedan, does not go down to Cycle and Carriage for a test drive in the Mercedes S class.
In the past, the term "Luxury Sedan", meant a car thats radiating nothing but comfort, that the term "Class" oozes out of the car. Not soo much in the generation we live in. People who buy such cars these days, expect performance.
And this, is one thing that this dear LS460 does not lack. Lexus has learned from the engineering traits, from the Germans. So now, you do not only get reliability with Lexus, but you get the best of German+Japanese engineering. Which is easily noticed by subtle changes, like the design of the accelerator pedal, technical advancement, that was first found in the Mercedes S Class. You will definitely be impressed.
Before i get into the details of the test drive, i thought it would be beneficial for the readers to note, that the price you pay for an LS460SWB, what you get in comparison to the Germans, is a S300(Merc), A8 3.2(Audi), 730(BMW). Even though this car is meant to be compared with the more powerful models, like the S500, A8 4.2, 740li.
When you get to the Lexus showroom, you will realize, that their "sports" coupe/cabriolet, is not on the showroom floor. If you want to buy one, choices are limited, as Borneo keeps little stock. Wonder why? Well for starters, the LS460 is FASTER than that little sports car. Please understand that i'm not being critical about that car, which in my opinion still looks pretty amazing. But it is important to note that this LS actually means business.
"Luxury Car of the Year 2007" Thats gotta mean something. So out i drove from Borneo Motors, in a superbly comfortable LS460. It is amazing, the ride of this car. I have never sat in any other car that glides on the road as well as the LS does. In fact because of the ride comfort, you don't even feel the urge of testing the 380bhp 500nm of power. I mean it was especially hard to tell when the car had changed gears. I kid you not. The 8 Speed gearbox. Wow! Especially when you're cruising. At 90km/h, the engine is only rotating under 1,500rpm.
I took the car for a pretty long drive, and it was only towards the end, where i had to merge onto the main road, that i floored the LS. The power was really unexpected. So much so that the traction control had to kick in, even when the road was completely dry! You could even hear a short squeal from the Bridgestones. (: Torque is what you need, when driving in countries like Singapore, and the LS does not lack.
There have been comments on how disconnected the steering feels. But in my opinion it was pretty good. Understanding that the car has an electric power steering, it makes good sense to see why this car would feel disconnected, but there is an adequate amount of feedback, especially for a car this size. The turn in is quite sharp, but what follows is the body, that seems to be lagging a step behind every abrupt action you take with the car. That is the downside. The suspension. Although allowing the car to ride beautifully down the road, handling is sacrificed. In fact the car actually felt bigger, when driving it, compared to when looking at it!
However, it is my opinion, that the suspension set up, is the right way forward. I mean lets all be frank. This car is a REAL bargain. $300,000 for a car with a 4.6litre V8 engine. Plus the standard features that come with the car, appear as OPTIONS in the German counterparts. I mean yes, an S500 rides much better than the LS in terms of performance, and when you want comfort, you can have that at a touch of a button, and although not as great as the LS in that area, you at least have the option. I agree. But have you seen the price difference?
In Singapore roads, its not as if you are going to go drifting down the street(which FYI, is very easily achieved in the LS460) or take at sharp bend at 120km/h. Especially since Singapore's law limits us to speeds ranging from 50km/h to 90km/h. And even if you cross the border, its been reviewed, that the LS is more than capable at taking bends at 200+ km/h.
If you're understanding where im coming from, a 0 to 100km/h time of 5.5s(timed by me) is already in the range of the High Performance cars. Plus this engine is naturally aspirated. Thus i feel, this car is built for countries like Singapore. Whereby everyday we are faced with slow traffic, city driving, being handicapped to the speed of 90 on the expressways. That MOST people, would choose ride comfort, and the driveability of this car, over handling. I mean Lexus has every area covered. In the city, the light steering allows easy maneuverability. Even has an air purifier. On the expressways, your car glides in near silence, and overtaking is definitely a breeze. In emergency situations, the power of the electronically controlled brakes, stupendous amounts of driver aids, and 10 airbags, see you avoid the obstacle, or crash well protected.
In conclusion, i feel that whats out there for us in the "Luxury Sedan" range, is really subjective. It is really up to each individual to choose. For instance, the S Class may look more attractive on the road, and the Audi's A8 has great style, especially the design of the interior. BMW's 7 series is for the family man, with an interest for performance. And the LS460, well i think, it is a compromise in all areas.
Which is why, Germans... you gotta BEWARE!
8 Speed Gearbox.
Subjective: Ride too soft.
The LS460L launch was held last Wednesday but we weren't invited. Nevertheless, a full spread advertisement was in the papers today making the LS460L available for test drive. Naturally (and instinctively), my dad and I jumped for the chance.
Getting into the showroom, we were treated to drinks while we waited for our sales assistant to arrive. She was a little late, but meanwhile we had a look at the car.
I sat in the Ottoman seats at the back first, and oh my, this seat is the most comfortable I've ever sat on in any car. Actually, come think, it's better than any seating surface I've ever laid myself on. It's soft, supple and cosetting. Sure, there isn't much support for the body, but the seats make you feel as if you're preparing to sleep on your nice warm bed that you've been accustomed to for years. I played around with the gadgets at the back, and I managed to recline the seat to such a position that I really felt as if this was a discounted Maybach experience. The only minor problem was that my legs were too long - so long that it got stuck underneath the front seats while I reclined.
We checked out the engine too, and this was possibly one of the cleanest engine bays in the market in any car. It was all covered up so all you really see is the Lexus badge as well as eight brick-like cylinders lined up.
The paintwork wasn't the best in the world; we could still see bumps from some angles, but it was acceptable. I still think the one on the Phaeton is better.
The boot was of a decent size although it could have been much bigger.
Nevertheless, I knew this was going to be a good car. The sales assistant finally arrived (uncannily late for a Lexus assistant) and she led us to an exclusive, quiet area where we could view the car more intimately. She unlocked the car keylessly (old technology in this day and age) and invited us to sit inside. She offered to test drive half of the journey so we can explore the back seats more closely, and we agreed.
My dad drove first. The engine starts up and as expected, you didn't know it did. The gauges light up in brilliant white, as the Lexus logo welcomes the owner to the car at the instrument panel. Ambient lighting is noticeable but it isn't presented as 'artistically' or as stylish as in the German cars - it was just haphazardly placed lighting that really felt they were just tacky add-ons. With some instruction on the electronic parking brake, we were off.
First thing you notice when the car is on the move is how quiet it is. I can't say that it is as quiet as the LS430 of before, but it's definitely at the standards of its competitors.
With some curiosity I opened the centre console for the back seat and it revealed two controllers. One was for the massage function (they have a whole litany of different massage settings: vibration? Shiatsu? Shoulder? Back? Intensity?) and the other is the controller for the DVD system. This is by far, the most impressive technology I've ever seen in a car. I turned on the DVD and immediately I experienced the Mark Levinson sound system. It was just like sitting in a home theatre. It felt as if the sound was within you; as if you really stood in the scene of the movie; you couldn't pinpoint whether the sound was coming from the speakers. But you could see the speakers at least - a few at the doors, a few behind you and one right on top of you. And the screen was crystal-clear sharp - it slides out of the alcantara roof. To tell the truth, I really don't mind staying up all night just to watch DVDs in the LS460L. It's a sensation. In fact, it was so good that the sales assistant had to lower the volume a little using the touch screen in front in order to speak to us.
The massage features were good and more pronounced than in the Phaeton; in the Phaeton, the massages felt weak but in the LS460L it was really like sitting in those massage chairs you could buy. And the car was so comfortable I had a totally redefined feeling of 'being on air' - it was better than the S-Class (W221) that we test drove, or even the Flying Spur for that matter. It was pure bliss.
While I was busy playing with the gadgets at the back, my dad went on to test drive the car. The engine sounded like a V8 (because it was; but in a Lexus you might expect otherwise) and I was quite surprised that it sounded so good. To top it off, the car was quick. Real quick. I was pushed against the seat when my dad floored it. 500Nm of torque was no joke. The transmission was also quick to respond and allowed the engine to rev when it needed to. Still, I find 8 speeds a little excessive.
Then, halfway through our test drive, my dad and the sales assistant switched places. Now, she drove us around while we could play with the gadgets. They clearly wanted to emphasise how this car was really meant for the towkays (tycoons in Singaporean lingo) to sit at the back and for the chauffeur to sit in front. Apparently, the front seats are void of any special functions other than that it is electronically adjustable - from the back seat, you can change your radio stations and have a video conference without ever having to bother the driver in front.
Back at the showroom, I was really sold on this car. It has all the makings of a luxury car - stitched fine leather, a powerful 4.6L V8, smooth 8-speed transmission, a comfortable ride - there's just so much to list. This car trumps almost every car I can think of at its price - for a DVD system and a sound system as good as this in a large German sedan, you&#8217;d have to pay so much more. And in the Flying Spur, bench seats were standard and 4-seater was options - in my own books the LS460L felt more luxurious than even the Flying Spur.
That said, this Lexus is not a driver's car. It'll be such a waste if you drive it because the back seats are the best in the world, period.
Comfort, space, luxury, price
The Germans still balance sport and luxury best