In Malaysia, Lexus is a really exclusive thing. Test drives of the press fleet are limited to an exclusive list, and for the media on that list, test drives are limited to taking the car for a spin around the headquarters – none of the usual three day test drive stuff. Shannon Teoh of NST Life & Times, one of the lucky local journalists who managed to get a feel of the Lexus LS460L shares with us his experience driving the flagship Lexus.
Remember the first time you flew? Wasn’t it a magical feeling? Here you were, strapped loosely into a seat on something that from the inside, looked like a train, all elongated and filled with rows of seats with a small toilet in the back.
Then, the takeoff, and the immense amount of Gs forces you back into the seat and then, lift off! You panic at the feeling of weightlessness, but soon, you get used to it. The planes levels off and there’s no acceleration in any direction. Not up, not down, not front, back or sideways. Just plain sailing. Man was never meant to fly so I guess that’s why we love it so much. We love it so much, that we built a car that feels like flying. Not in the sense that it reaches take-off speeds. But that feeling of plain sailing with zero intrusions.
Welcome to the world of luxury saloons. Where champagne, cigars and cushy bums are the name of the game. But the Japanese, they do it differently, don’t they? They go for the most tangible idea of luxury. So with the Lexus LS460L, it’s a car built to meet all you might practically need out of a luxury car – save the massively endowed blonde bombshell. The LS in its 460L guise, is the only iteration of Lexus’ flagship available in Malaysia. There’s nothing a happily married man could conceivably want in a long-legged sedan that the LS460L couldn’t give you.
The first thing that hits you, is the whopping 19 speakers located in places you never even knew existed in a car. You’re more likely to lose count before finding all of them. The immaculate sound system just permeates the atmosphere once the in-car entertainment is fired up. I know full on hi-fi systems that don’t sound this good. It’s scintillating stuff, this Mark Levinson Reference Surround system – you’ll want to buy it without the car even. You’ll be so surrounded by laser-sharp sound that you’ll hardly notice anything that’s going on outside of your car. This is especially welcome when you’re not driving.
As far as the drive goes, which is something you shouldn’t be doing yourself in a car like this, it’s capable, with 375hp derived from its V8 engine. That doesn’t sound like much in a car that has a gross weight of 2.5 tonnes but it’s really much better than it looks on paper thanks to the world’s first eight-speed auto box that keeps you as close to peak torque of 493Nm as possible.
Supremely composed through corners, you’d conceivably complain about the steering but then, this was never meant to be a pseudo-sports car the way the Bentley Continental Flying Spur is. The first signs of discomfort will come from the passengers – although this too takes some doing. Extra-legal speeds through the bends result in conspicuous but well-damped bodyroll, giving you a good overlap of comfort and generous amounts of handling.
This helps the feel of flying but what clinches it, is the Ottoman rear seating. Wrapped in semi-aniline leather which is adjustable to the point of lazychair levels of recline, it’s like one of those business-class seats on airliners. Add to that the retractable table and also a great ride, and this might as well be Flight LS460L instead.
That’s not the end of it. The Rear Seat Relaxation System is your own rudimentary massage spa, providing both Shiatsu and customisable pummeling to ease you into slumber. I don’t usually sleep well in any sort of moving object but the LS460L really lulled me with timely proddings of my pressure points, the electronic sunshades, its smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom ride and wonderfully adjustable seat really got me under the Sandman’s spell. This is a much-ignored form of luxury – the ability to make your trip from point A to B forgettable, as if it never happened. I don’t want to be fussed about, taken for a wild ride or look at the people going by. Just let me get out of the car as hale and healthy as when I got in.
Some might say it’s not going to look as impressive as an S-Class. Sure, as a status symbol, an L-badge is not quite a three-pointed star. But the next time you roll into Carcosa Seri Negara for some big shindig, how many will actually turn up in an LS? That’s exclusivity.
At only RM777,448, it’s a bargain given that it’s a world away from the bare bones S350 that sells for RM754,888. To beat the 4.6-litre Lexus, you’ll need the 5.0-litre V8 in the S500L which costs RM1,411,888. Add some loose change, and you’ll have TWO LS460Ls.
Of course, you’d only buy one, but the money leftover could pay the salary of ten highly-trained servants for two years! So go on, don’t just look like you’re rich, be pampered like you’re rich as well.
[ Note: Photos used in this post are from international press stock photos, and not photos of the actual car being sold in Malaysia. Thus, specs and trim level might be different. Click any of the photos in this blog post for an enlarged version. ]