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Lexus LS 600h L Review & Road Test (2011) Part 3

Mon, 07 Mar 2011

Lexus LS 600h Review Part 3

The entire raison d’être of the LS 600h is as a car to be driven in. As a passenger the LS 600h is hard to fault. It’s quite, comfortable and very stable. Despite being ‘Soft’ it doesn’t pitch and roll; it’s a very good place to be.

From the ‘King’ seat behind the passenger it’s clear who is really important in this Lexus. Everything is to hand, from controls to move the front passenger seat forward to heating, ventilating, massaging, sound, video…

To be driven in the back of the LS 600h is to be cosseted. It’s about as close as you’ll get to being in the back of a Maybach, but at a third the price.

But even if it seems cheap in comparison to the Maybach (actually, anything seems cheap in comparison to a Maybach), it is anything but. This Lexus LS 600h L with its all-singing, all-dancing rear relaxation package is £100,000.

At that price it’s the same as a very well equipped LWB S/C Jaguar XJ. Or £30k more than the diesel version – which is quicker and more frugal. But that’s probably unfair – the Jaguar is a car for the driver and doesn’t have the vast array of back-seat gizmos the Lexus does. But it’s still an eye-watering price compared to anything comparable from Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW, Audi…

All of which leaves us with a real quandary. The LS 600h isn’t a driver’s car – that’s very clear – it’s designed to transport passengers in quiet and comfort. Which it does admirably. And thanks to its hybrid drivetrain it could even do that until January in London without attracting the congestion charge. But that has now gone, taking away a real USP.

To top it all we couldn’t do a lot better than mid-twenties to the gallon. Which, not very long ago, would have been admirable for a big, luxury chauffeur car. But no more. Our long-term XJ diesel is averaging well over 30mpg and the diesel Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 Series manage much the same.

So the Lexus LS 600h is enormously more expensive to buy and fuel than anything that could be considered competition. It offers little back to the driver, although for the passenger it is arguably a better place to be than the competition. But a £30k premium for slightly more appealing passenger toys is steep. Very steep.

Beautifully built and engineered though the LS 600h is, it fails to convince. It is too expensive – to buy and run – and its hybrid powertrain fails to deliver what it promises. Despite its modern hybrid technology it feels like an old car – to drive and to be driven in – and the whole car feels just like a big, posh Toyota.

Sadly, there are many better options than a Lexus LS 600h. Unless you were otherwise going to buy a Maybach.

And then it’s a brilliant buy.

Lexus LS 600h L specification, data and price

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By Cars UK