WHEN it comes to large and luxurious Japanese cars, the 2019 Lexus LS 500h Sports Luxury has to be, hands down, the flagship offering. Up against fancied European competitors from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, it stacks up surprisingly well.
Luxury cars are all about the complete package, and in the case of the Lexus, once you sit yourself in the 28-way electronically adjustable driver’s seat, you’d be hard pressed to find a more comfortable place to sit. Except maybe in the back.
You see, both front seats offer some fantastic lumbar support, all those adjustments, and three memory functions, and the driver’s seat even moves automatically on entry and exit, along with the steering wheel, to allow ease of access.
But it’s the back seats that are amazing. The rear seats are 22-point adjustable, and also feature seven massage functions, and the left rear passenger seat even has a funky ottoman that pops up and automatically moves the front passenger seat forward.
Everything about the feel of the LS 500h is beautiful, from the leather on the seats and the doors, to the supple suede covering the pillars and roof. The rear area also has window blinds and a control panel for separate heating, cooling and entertainment.
Up front, the instrument panel is digital and changes based on the five available drive modes, with a large head-up display also on hand to keep you informed, and save you looking down. Likewise, the audio system is among the best we’ve heard in any car.
Some 23 speakers and 2400w will deliver that. What it lacks though is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and there’s no wireless phone charging either. The Lexus touch pad to control the infotainment system continues to be a pain in the you-know-what as well.
The other pain for the LS 500h is an audio style assistant, that wants to tell you everything from when you’re over the speed limit, to school zones and roadworks. The issue is that half the time the listed speed limit is wrong.
Now, onto the drive train. As you may have guessed by the ‘h’, the 2019 Lexus LS 500h is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine/electric motor hybrid combination, putting out a healthy 264kW of combined power.
The petrol engine also offers 350Nm of torque from the petrol engine, and 300Nm from the electric motor. Put your foot down and it gets up and moves its 2,235kg weight pretty well. It’s no slouch.
Around town and on the open road, it’s a pleasure to drive. Hit tight corners at speed though and you’ll notice two things, that weight, and it’s 5.23m length. The engine is matched up with a 10-speed automatic.
There’s flappy paddles behind the steering wheel, giving you the option of manually shifting the gears if you wish. This writer did manage to catch the gearbox out a couple of times though, almost like it is trying to decide which gear to be in.
With 20-inch wheels, the ride is surprisingly comfortable, as is the handling. The standard variable air suspension also enhances the ride quality, and provides the added bonus of being able to raise the car over speed bumps or difficult driveways.
The steering is very, very light and has next to no feedback, which is a bit of a downside, and there’s a degree of under steer when pushing through a corner. With an 11.5m turning circle, it can also be difficult to get around in tight spaces.
You will however find an astounding level of safety kit that includes a 360-degree reversing camera, pre-collision safety with pedestrian detection, radar active cruise control, lane trace assist, and a blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert.
The high-beam system is adaptive, and front collision traffic alert and road sign assist are also standard, as are the 12 airbags. Lexus claims it can run 0-100km/h of 5.0 seconds, and it’s quick for its size, but doesn’t feel it, thanks to its lush and quiet interior.
On the fuel economy front, combined numbers are 6.6-litres/100km according to the manufacturer, but we couldn’t even get close, with a best of 9.9-litres/100km. It’s not bad if this was the petrol version, but its pretty average for a hybrid.
With a drive away price pushing $210,000 without adding some of the amazing enhancement packages, it’s a lot of dollars, but it does offer a somewhat unique alternative to its mostly German rivals.
It comes in a vast array of colours too, including Sonic Quartz, Sonic Silver, Titanium, Liquid Metal, Onyx, Graphite Black, Vermillion, Scarlet Crimson, Metallic Silk, Deep Metallic Bronze and Deep Blue.
Our test vehicle was provided by Lexus Australia. To find out more about the 2019 Lexus LS 500h Sports Luxury, contact your nearest Lexus dealer.