In part 2 of our review of the Lexus LS 600h we ask if, even though it may not be a driver’s car, can the LS 600h hustle and is there any joy in the drive?
With an ‘h’ tagged to the end of its name – and the Lexus predilection for all things hybrid – it won’t come as a shock to learn that the Lexus LS 600h is a hybrid. Nor will it probably surprise you that it doesn’t actually have a 6.0 litre lump lurking under the bonnet as its name suggests.
Instead, it has a 5.0 litre V8 and some electrickery in the shape of a pair of electric motors which, in concert with the V8, produce 438bhp, directed to all four wheels through a CVT ‘box. Which sounds quite appealing and should – if Lexus are to be believed – give us the performance of a V12 and the economy of a V8. Hmm.
The Lexus LS 600h is about as quite as a car can be. You’re not ruffled by wind noise or tyre roar or engine. Nothing. A muted growl as the V8 tries to catch up with the CVT ‘box when you mash the throttle is as loud as it gets.
The expectation from that mashed throttle is some very brisk acceleration. And the big Lexus does pick up its skirts and hustle. A bit. But a 0-60mph of 6.3 seconds is nothing remarkable. In fact it’s a bit slower than our long-term diesel XJ. Which is somehow rather disappointing.
As is the steering on the Lexus, which is a rather woolly and short on feel. It’s accurate enough; it just doesn’t give you anything back. And when you start to hustle it does feel like you’re throwing a small yacht round the Solent instead of a luxury car round the B roads. And yet…
I used to run a W140 S Class. In fact I had consecutive W140s and clocked up nearly 500k miles. And for a big barge they could hustle really rather well. And this big Lexus feels very like they did to hustle.
The steering is a bit less communicative in the Lexus than the Mercedes, but the feel is quite similar. If you pitch in to a corner with plenty of throttle but a balancing left foot on the brake you really can tip it round corners remarkably well. And with enough power to drive hard out of a corner, suddenly you’re making hot-hatch progress.
It’s not pretty, but it’s very doable. And a real hoot. A bit like finding your weekend yacht has a pop-out hydrofoil when you decide to make some serious progress. But really, the fact that the Lexus can hustle a bit better than it has any right to is almost irrelevant.
The Lexus LS 600h L was not built for the driver.
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