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New Lexus LS is any VIP’s nirvana


IT’S EASY to mistake the Lexus LS 460 as a competitor to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8. All of these cars are ridiculously expensive, supremely comfortable and overflowing with the latest high-tech gadgets.

The Lexus differs because of where you are situated while enjoying the above mentioned. The Mercedes, BMW and Audi  were built to cosset and comfort all occupants equally, while the Lexus couldn’t give a damn about the guy doing the driving. Yes, it has some fancy tech in the front, but it’s nowhere near as sumptuous as it is in the back.

My plan was to write a road test based on my experiences in the front seat, but I quickly realised that this plan wouldn’t work. As a driving machine, it’s nowhere near as involving and entertaining as the 7 Series and nowhere near as fast as the S65 AMG. It’s no slowpoke, but it doesn’t like to be rushed either. Perhaps things are better in the rear?

It wasn’t hard to find someone to do driving duty and within a few minutes I took my place in the best seat in the house. This gave me time to reflect on how much driving actually sucks and how wonderful it must be to relinquish this responsibility to someone else permanently.

The first thing that gets you is the level of comfort. The LS has something called a Climate Concierge system, which measures the temperature of each of the four individual zones and adjusts the climate control, seat heating and cooling and heated steering wheel accordingly. The climate control also features an air purifier, so no harmful pollutants or smells intrude the lavish interior.

Lexus has also included enough toys to keep even the grumpiest VIP smiling, the best of which is the Mark Levinson sound system. It features 19 speakers, a 15-channel amplifier and connectivity for every type of input, including Blu-Ray discs. You also get a roof-mounted screen with built-in entertainment. You’d have to travel a very long distance to get bored in the back of an LS.

As the people travelling in the back will more than likely be indispensable members of society, Lexus has ensured that it set new standards in occupant and pedestrian safety. The last thing you want is bad press after running a pedestrian down, as a few members of our government should know by now.

The LS features an advanced pre-crash avoidance system that monitors the vehicle’s surroundings and warns the driver of any danger. I’ve experienced this system before on other luxury models and they tend to be overly paranoid and as a result, annoying.

The system in the Lexus is less intrusive and informs you in a courteous manner that something out there demands your attention. Not that it matters, as it’s something the driver should be worrying about anyway.

It costs R1 236 700, which is a rude amount of money, but you do get an awful lot in return. The LS is also the latest and most up-to-date competitor to grace this segment, but it won’t be that way for long. The new Mercedes S-Class is on its way and if initial reports are anything to go by, it’s going to be a technological masterpiece. The Lexus’ time at the top might be a somewhat short-lived.


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