Lexus LS 460 F Sport
We see why the new V8-engined Lexus LS 460 luxury car is set to outsell the hybrid model
The LS’s appeal in the UK is hampered by the fact there’s no diesel version, but if you prize refinement above all else, this car has its merits. The LS 460 is significantly cheaper than the LS 600h, yet slightly faster and almost as economical, so it’s clearly the pick of the range. We’d just think twice about going for the F Sport package – it improves the looks, but does little to the dynamics.
We were less than impressed by the stodgy dynamics and £100,000 price when we tested the hybrid Lexus LS 600h. So can the V8-powered LS 460 F Sport – expected to make up the lion’s share of sales in the UK – right those wrongs?
It gets off to a good start, undercutting the hybrid LS by a hefty £25,000 and the 449bhp BMW 750i M Sport by £2,135. It also uses a conventional eight-speed automatic instead of the hybrid’s frustrating CVT box.
Comparing the LS to anything else on the road, though, is to miss the point, as it’s designed to deliver unrivalled refinement. Lexus has added more sound insulation and special hollow-chamber wheels to this facelifted version, and the results are remarkable.
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The V8 spins into life and settles to a silent tickover – even if you floor the throttle, only a distant warble is audible.
Use a light right foot, though, and the LS is supremely quiet, wafting along with barely any wind or road noise and a constant surplus of torque, while the auto box blurs the ratios into one.
Turn the Drive Mode Select dial to Comfort (Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes are also available), and the adaptive dampers slacken off to give a ‘magic carpet’ ride over all but the biggest bumps.
Toggle through the modes and the throttle becomes noticeably sharper, the steering heavier and the suspension firmer, but there’s no need – this big car prefers to be driven gently and smoothly.
Which is why the revised braking system is completely baffling. Lexus claims to have improved responsiveness, but the result is a grabby sensation at low speeds which makes smooth progress impossible. Our F Sport model has six-piston Brembo front brakes as standard, and this only makes the problem worse.
Also included in the £2,500 F Sport package is a 10mm lower ride height, plus a chunkier body, steering wheel shift paddles and a limited slip diff – all of which seems unnecessary given the LS 460’s laid-back character.