In 1989, the LS 400 luxury sedan led the introduction of Toyota’s premium arm Down Under.
It became the harbinger for a whole range of vehicles, from compact hatchbacks to robust SUVs, embracing petrol/electric hybrid technology.
Fast forward more than 30 years to the arrival of the upgraded LS 500.
Lexus claims it introduces a new level of opulence and a wider application of advanced automotive technology in conventional or hybrid powered variants.
Both come in F Sport or Sport Luxury grades.
What’s it cost?
Prices start at $195,953 for the F Sport or $201,078 for Sport Luxury, increases of less than one per cent.
Colour options are White, Black, Chateau and Hazel trims with premium ornamentations at no cost.
Other trim and ornamentation combinations are available for an extra $10,000.
Our test vehicle was the LS 500 F Sport model.
With a 2021 update, LS 500 looks are further enhanced with an elegant new radiator grille, front bumper and tail-light highlights, as well as boosted LED headlights featuring advanced BladeScan adaptive beam technology that gives more precise illumination.
Further design enhancements include badging, dark metallic accents and grilles and 20-inch dark metallic alloy wheels.
Lexus also offers Lustre Shadow across the range, a new exterior paint finish that incorporates flakes of aluminium in a mirror-like finish.
A new 12.3-inch touchscreen provides easy access to the multimedia system, which includes satellite navigation, access to Apple CarPlay or Android, plus superb all-round sound from a 23-speaker Mark Levinson audio which incorporates DAB+ digital radio and DVD player and four USB points and AUX input.
Making its debut in a Lexus is a digital rear-view mirror.
Its large display presents real-time images from the reversing camera, providing improved vision in all weather and lighting conditions, while ensuring the view is not obstructed by headrests or passengers.
Modifications have been made to the suspension designed to produce a more comfortable ride while maintaining the model’s dynamic character.
F Sport variants gain additional driver-assist features previously exclusive to Sports Luxury.
The further advanced Lexus Safety System+ incorporates intersection turning assist, first seen in the new Lexus IS and is designed to provide alerts and, if necessary, automatic braking if it detects an oncoming vehicle when turning right, or a pedestrian approaching from the front when turning right or left.
LS also joins the IS with standard Lexus Connected Services, which include Automatic Collision Notification – the ability to generate an automatic emergency call to a round-the-clock emergency call centre and relay the vehicle location in an accident requiring intervention — or if an airbag (of which there are 10), deploys.
A full-colour head-up windscreen display provides driving info without the driver having to look away from the road ahead.
As well as a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty, LS 500 owners can take advantage of exclusive Lexus Encore Platinum benefits.
What’s it go like?
F Sport is the performance model, with 0 to 100km/h coming in 5.0 seconds.
Adaptive variable suspension incorporates height adjustable multi-link front and rear air system, with the F Sport adding front and rear stabilisers producing the calmness of cruising we have come to expect from a Lexus flagship.
Standard 20-inch wheels are wrapped with a new run-flat tyre designed with a lower vertical spring rate to reduce the impact of road surface blemishes further adding to ride comfort.
A twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 serves up 310kW of power at 6000 rpm and holds peak torque of 600Nm between 1600 and 4800 rpm, with the tasty combination, driving the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The V6 features re-engineered pistons that reduce noise when the engine is cold, while dual variable valve timing adopts hydraulic control on the inlet side to reduce weight while maintaining the engine’s strong torque over a broad rev range.
More weight saving is obtained with a new one-piece intake manifold made from aluminium — instead of cast iron.
While the cabin surroundings of the test car were generally pleasing to the eye, garish white-and-black ‘marble cake’ leather upholstery was something of a shock. Whatever were designers thinking?
Ignoring that, the set-up makes the best of spacious room to move, while operating conveniently positioned controls such as steering wheel, shift lever and pedals, for driving or while being ‘chauffeured’.
The familiar old-style analogue clock on the central dashboard, a feature of other Lexus cabins, is always welcome.
LS 500 is a ‘lolly jar’ brimming with sweet temptations picked through a plethora of easy-to-reach controls including buttons, knobs, switches, pedals, paddles and a touchpad enough to satisfy the ultimate tech-savvy motorist.
Having previously found the Lexus touchpad a tad ticklish to control with the left hand, the LS 500 version appears to have become more positive in reaction to the touch.
Running on recommended 95 RON petrol, Lexus claims combined fuel consumption of 10.0L/100km.