The most expensive Japanese luxury car ever produced is a Lexus —but not just any old Lexus. For this is the long-wheelbase LS 600h L, the world’s first fully hybrid V8-powered car.
Needless to say, this mould-breaking machine was designed with the newly eco-conscious American market in mind, and made its debut at the New York International Auto Show in 2006.
The flagship Lexus LS is a huge four-door sedan that competes with Germans like the Audi A8 and BMW 7 Series. The usual 4.6 litre V8 is replaced by a 5 litre engine in the hybrid, which doesn’t quite succeed in propelling the heavy LS 600h L as rapidly as the standard model when it comes to acceleration, though the electronically limited top speed is not affected.
Electronic wizardry and advanced safety features characterize every Lexus, but this one has the highest level of decadent comfort and most advanced technological features ever offered. Overall styling is typically bland, but build quality is robust and the interior finish is plush, though the instrumentation and controls do lack a certain je ne sais quoi for a car in this rarefied price bracket.
The Lexus Hybrid Drive system delivers 438 bhp, mating the powerful V8 with a high-output electric motor with a nickel-hydride battery pack. It has two-speed continuously variable transmission, a limited-slip differential and adaptive air suspension. At town-driving speeds the four-wheel drive LS 600h L ghosts silently along on its electric motor, but if the tempo increases or a sudden burst of speed is needed the engine cuts in instantly.
Unfortunately, the need to accommodate the large battery pack means that the LS 600h L’s boot space is anything but generous, though no doubt that’s a small price to pay for helping to save the planet.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
5,000 cc V8 + Electric HDS
Top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.1 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
The LS 600h L offers a relaxation pack that allows the rear seat on the passenger side to recline fully … and deliver a soothing massage.