2018 Lexus LS 500h first drive: A luxury niche

The Lexus LS isn’t your average stoic, luxury saloon. Indeed, the 1989 original was regarded as a real trailblazer, helping to rapidly establish the company overseas while winning acclaim for its excellent build quality, superior quietness and abundance of technology. But as technology and safety continue to be democratised, Lexus is having to re-build its brand essence, focussing on brave design and Japanese craftsmanship. This may sound like marketing spiel, but there’s a lot of truth here. For those car buyers who feel the Jaguar XJ is getting a bit old in the tooth, or are desperate to be tempted away from the same-again offerings of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, the Lexus LS has the potential to offer a true point of difference.

2018 Lexus LS 500h: Review

First impressions

The Lexus LS looks like no other flagship saloon you will have seen before. Regardless of whether you like this sleek silhouette, it’s clear Lexus is becoming a beacon for fresh, imaginative design and a welcome tonic to the iterative approach offered by the German big three.

Complex surfacing and sculptural LED lights clothe a modified platform that also underpins the equally striking Lexus LC Coupe, which goes some way to explain why this LS is noticeably longer and wider than previous models. It’s still a practical shape with lots of headroom and legroom – only an extended wheelbase version will be available in the UK – for four adults. Thanks to standard air suspension, the ride height can also be raised at the touch of a button ...