Lexus LS600h hybrid review (2007 onwards MSN Cars UK

26 Мар 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Lexus LS600h hybrid review (2007 onwards MSN Cars UK отключены
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Lexus LS600h hybrid review (2007 onwards

Image © Lexus

What: Lexus LS600hWhere: Frankfurt, GermanyDate: April 2007Price: from £85,000 (est)Available: October 2007Key rivals: Audi A8, BMW 7 Series, Jaguar XJ, Mercedes S-Class

Hybrid version of the luxury Lexus saloon offers solid performance but the green credentials are less convincing.

Likes: fabulous levels of comfort, technical refinement, strong performance, improved economyDislikes: limited boot space, poor mobile phone storage, self righteous “green” credentials

A green car for the wealthy?

Just imagine. You are the CEO of a major UK company. Your PR chief impresses upon you the importance of making the right visual statement, presenting the correct environmentally aware image to your shareholders and the media.

So a Range Rover is an iffy proposition and a gas-guzzling luxury car is almost as bad. Where to go?

Something compact and economical is the real answer, and a Toyota Prius hits the target spot on, but hey, get real! What about a Lexus LS600h? It has the right hybrid credentials to impress even your dinner party friends, it has all the luxury you could possibly want and it is actually faster than a regular Lexus LS460.

It is a win-win scenario.

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The £100,000 Lexus

As long as you have deep pockets. Prices will not be announced until much near the October 2007 launch date, but take a likely £85,000 base price, add £8k-£9k for the long wheelbase version, another £5k for the desirable ‘ottoman’ single rear seat and you are getting very close to six figures. The 600h is being marketed as the halo Lexus LS and, it seems, certain buyers will be prepared to pay for that luxury. It is unlikely they will be disappointed either.

The Lexus LS has all the qualities you expect of a luxury car, with supremely comfortable seats, a great ride and very little noise.

What we haven’t had in the UK before is the long-wheelbase version. This adds 120mm to the interior space, and brings Lexus into line with the offerings from its major rivals. It allows space behind the front passenger seat for a reclining, heated, air conditioned seat featuring the world’s first human body temperature-sensing air-conditioning system, ottoman leg rest and rear seat entertainment. Not to forget, of course, the eight-chamber pneumatic massage system that can replicate Shiatsu or a number of other massage techniques.

In a word, then, relaxing.

The 600h operates like all Toyota and Lexus hybrids, although being the newest model there are refinements that make it the most sophisticated of the lot. The large capacity petrol V8 works in the usual way, but it can also charge up the nickel metal hybrid battery pack on the move. When the battery is charged, it will power a feisty electric motor that runs in tandem with the V8.

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In effect, as Lexus likes to put it, you get the performance of a 6.0-litre V12 engine without the bills – hence the LS600h badging.

Technically the big deal is that the hybrid LS has four-wheel drive in place of the rear-wheel drive of the LS460. But equally significant are, on the standard wheelbase cars, the optional active anti-roll bars that tighten up the cornering behaviour. The big Lexus already has a sophisticated air suspension package that adapts to the driving conditions but this extra step manages to make the LS significantly more agile in its behaviour than before.

Factor in the additional urge that the electric motor provides and the 600h really does perform like something in a different league.

Image © Lexus

It is also uncannily quiet, so quite that a high-speed cruise on the German autobahn is totally relaxing. With such performance potential, though, it is a good job that the Lexus is stuffed with safety features, including one that monitors you eyes and face and beeps if you are not paying attention. There is also ‘Rear Pre-Crash Safety’ which detects a vehicle running into the rear and moves the headrests forward to minimise whiplash.

A downside of all this technology is that luggage space in the boot is simply inadequate for a luxury car.

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The MSN Cars verdict ****

Hybrid cars have, until now, largely been sold on the environmental ticket. But, despite the statutory numbers for economy and C02, the LS600h only looks good when compared with other luxury cars, and not in absolute terms. If that is enough to salve the conscience, then you will not find a better blend of sheer luxury, high performance and cleanliness for your money.

Petrol engine 5.0 V8 Electric motor 165 kW Power (bhp) 445 Torque (lb/ft) 384 0-62mph (secs) 6.3    Top speed (mph) 155 Combined MPG 30.3 CO2 emissions (g/km)/tax (%) 219/30%

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