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Luxurious lexus We look closer at the “manufacturer of the decade” 2013 LS Range › ISF CCS-R › GS250 › CT200h


06 >> LS Range 16 >> ISF CCS-R 20 >> GS250 28 >> CT200h



anufacturer of the decade – now there’s an accolade eh? The recent award, gifted to Lexus by Auto Express magazine, is a shiny top shelf addition to the already brimming Lexus trophy cabinet – being their manufacturer of the year seven out of 10 years: Not bad for a brand that only launched to the UK market in 1990 too, I think you will agree? “The Pursuit of Perfection” works! And if Road Magazine gave out awards (maybe one day eh?), we’d certainly be bestowing the ace luxury car manufacturer with one or two of our own. Their cars are all incredible – whether traditional luxury liners like the new LS range, sporty race aces like the ISF CCS-R, wonderful daily drivers like the GS250 or modern, innovative, stylish hybrids, like the CT200h: All of which we have on test in this packed Lexus special of Road Magazine. “The Japanese Mercedes” used to be the line folk quoted from lifetime Lexus convert comedic character, Alan Partridge, but that’s unfair, in our opinion. The Lexus brand has come so far – offering amazing build quality, exciting technology, fabulous design, virtually unparalleled luxury and refinement, brilliant (petrol) engines and an awesome driving environment and experience – it would be much fairer these days to be calling Mercedes and BMW “the German Lexus,” sorry, “Lexi!” Enjoy our Lexus special and be sure to see the blog (link bubble above) for more Lexus love. Ah-A!


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DEFINITION OF SOPHISTICATION 2013 sees the launch of an incredible, new LS range for Lexus – with over 3000 improvements over the already amazing outgoing V8 luxo-limo line-up. Meet the brand new 460 F-Sport and new-look LS 460 & 600h, priced from £71,995.


rand new design, breakthrough technology and re-defining automotive comfort, the new 2013 LS “is the most refined Lexus saloon ever built” and we can’t wait to: Drive the new cars, cane that new, hand-polished V8, test the world’s most advanced climate and interior lighting systems, sample the HD entertainment,

blast the 19-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system, pilot the new Shimamoku steering wheel, tell the time on the aluminium analogue clock mounted in the dashboard, not hear the outside world thanks to the greatest interior insulation and advanced aerodynamics, recline and be massaged by the new twin ottoman-style full leather rear

seats and even... see in the dark, using the Advanced Obstacle Detection System using radar, infra-red projectors and a stereo camera to assess the likelihood of a collision based on the position, speed and trajectory of a pedestrian or object outside, day or night. Meet the amazing new LS range – 600h, 460 and new 460 F-Sport.

460 F-Sport


he 460 F-Sport is brand new to the LS range – offering a more dynamic, focused “driver’s car” to the Lexus luxury limo line-up, inspired by the awesome LFA. Exterior features include front styling elements, 19inch alloys and six-piston Brembo brake callipers. While on the inside there’s sports seats, leather steer-

ing wheel and gear lever trim and grade-exclusive sporty trims & colour ways. Improved driving dynamics come via a 10mm reduction in ride height, greater body rigidity, Torsen limited slip differential and Active Stabiliser system. And the handcrafted 4.6-litre, 382bhp V8 gets a new intake sound generator, for a sporty note. Lexus say: “F Sport is de-

signed for LS owners who want to drive themselves, extending both the equipment specification and the performance potential of the V8 engine... and the chassis is tuned for greater handling agility & driver involvement.” Expect the class-leading comfort and quietness of the standard LS model range with a more sporting, dynamic, engaging chassis.

Two exclusive interior colour schemes are available for the LS 460 F-Sport: black with white-grey and black with mellow white, both teamed with an Alcantara roof lining. Also specific to the F-Sport grade, solid aluminium detailing can be specified. The authentic sports seats are 16-way electrically adjustable and are upholstered

in perforated leather, embossed with the F-Sport emblem and finished with white and grey stitching – offering a 25% increase in “body-holding performance.” Snug. And the addition of the lowered multilink air suspension, extra chassis bracing and torque-sensing Torsen limited slip differential should offer a new LS

experience – with flatter, more stable handling and improved chassis response. The huge Brembo six-piston front brake callipers should also offer additional bite and performance orientation to the LS, as will the paddle shifts for the eight-speed automatic transmission, which incorporate automatic throttle blipping on downshifts. Cool. We can’t wait to test the hardened, sporty edged, driver focused 460 FSport – it promises to offer a hitherto unexperienced LS drive: The new Jekyll & Hyde of modern motoring? Just maybe. We like: A lot.



he 460 is the nonhybrid, purist 4.6-litre V8, rear-drive limo in the LS range – offering the “everything we can do in one car” and “pursuit of perfection” one expects from Lexus, just without the new fangled hybrid technology, for good old and new fashioned V8 pleasure. Lexus are aiming to raise the bar higher than ever in terms of refinement, comfort, driving performance, technical excellence and, above all, quality, with the new LS and you can see that clearly with the ‘base’ model 460 – just look at that interior. It of-

and the lower housing system controls, including the new, second-generation of Lexus’s Remote Touch Interface). And there’s a Mark Levinson Reference Surround System, which has fers: The world’s leading had 2,000+ hours of laboraleather seats (including twin tory and on-road testing. It 45-degree reclining, masall looks incredible. saging ottomans), handThe improved sound incrafted steering wheel (67 sulation will only make it manufacturing steps and quieter than ever. The more 38 days work alone!), the rigid chassis, better aerodymost sophisticated Interior namics, steering and adIllumination System (with vanced air suspension mulsoft white interiors and LED tilink set-up will only make dash changing colour acit ride and drive better than cording to driving scenario), ever. And the new 4.6-litre the most advanced ‘Climate V8 – up 7bhp and down Concierge’ system (using 9% in emissions – is better infared to track occupants than ever and still the most body temperatures!), and a powerful N/A V8 available dashboard divided into two in the premium sector, with zones (upper with a 12.3382bhp & 493Nm, offering inch LCD multimedia screen 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds, – the widest on the market – 50-75mph in 4.9 seconds positioned for easy viewing, and 155mph. We love it!



or traditional LS range owners – who don’t do the driving, but recline in the rear watching TV, quaffing Bollinger and getting a massage behind the privacy blinds – the 600h is where it’s at: It offers the absolute peak in passenger comfort

and luxury, an incredibly smooth ride, perfect lighting, perpetually optimum temperatures, first rate in-car entertainment millionaire style and of course seriously swift progress between yacht, villa and your MD’s office – courtesy of the 439bhp the five-litre V8

and high output electric motor develop from the hybrid technology powertrain. The all-wheel drive LS 600h was the world’s first vehicle to use a full hybrid V8 powertrain. And the new LS600h is faster (6.1s to 60mph & 155mph), more economical (32.9mpg) and

more green (199g/Km) than ever. It’s also bigger, inside and out and looks sharper too. Win, win, win! The technology too has gone up a gear – part of over 3000 improvements over the old LS – best highlighted by the addition of the new Lexus Night View

system (available as an option on the LS 600h L Premier). It uses a near-infrared camera mounted at the head of the windscreen, near-infra-red projectors in the headlamp clusters and a night view ECU to capture and display a real-time view of the road ahead on the centre console display, using the 12.3-inch display – allowing for a larger picture and easier viewing compared to the system in the previous generation LS, where images were shown in the driver’s instrument binnacle. The camera is in constant operation and the projec-

tors are activated at speeds above 9mph (15km/h). The system displays an area up to 20 metres in front of the vehicle. So, the new LS sees in the dark, as well as everything else. In August 1983, Eiji Toyoda, then Toyota Chairman, challenged his senior executives to build, quite simply, “the best luxury car in the world” – and he must be a very happy, very proud man today, because the forth generation LS600h has got to be close to that, right? How far has the LS come since the first 400 23 years ago? Here’s to the next 730,000 LS sales! Hero.

The long goodbye

Earlier this year, when we heard the new LS was on the way, we had to say a final long goodbye to the amazing, £100,000 Lexus LS600h, at a Royle wedding.


hanks to John at Lexus UK, who most kindly offered up an LS 600h limo for our Road Magazine wedding this year. Team Road is run by www. – Phil & Bonnie – who happily tied the knot on June 2nd, with a vintage, shabby chic garden party back at their rural idyll cottage. But before all the relaxed, informal fun of the garden party could get underway, there was the all-important wedding to attend to, in an Abbey. That

required two cars of class and distinction – a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow for the blushing bride, Bonnie and a luxurious V8 limo for groom, Phil. He was pretty chillaxed, it has to be said – marrying the love of his life – but, just to make sure, he rode in the back, in the amazing Ottoman seat; feet up, Shiatsu massage on, with Billy Idol’s ‘White Wedding’ blasting from the high-quality audio. After a good V8 blat through the countryside,

we wafted through town, arriving at the Abbey with zero emissions from the electric motor – which even impressed the Canon who married them. The 2012 model LS600h may not be the best looking limo out there, but it’s certainly the best to drive, ride in, live with and enjoy showing off: What a car. Everyone enjoyed the LS600h at the wedding, but none more so than Editor, Phil: His last ride as a single man!

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The peak pursuit of perfection One of the best looking racers we’ve seen all year, the ace 416bhp V8, lightweight IS F CCS-R ran in the 2012 Pikes Peak International


iscous and vibrant in its burnt mica orange, jet black and carbon fibre and sporting a fierce and essential aero pack, the IS F Circuit Club Sport Racer (CCS-R) certainly looks the business. It’s one of the finest motor-

sport monsters we’ve seen this year. The beast (first seen way back at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Salon) was created by Lexus to take on the famous, fearsome, full-on ‘race to the clouds’ Pikes Peak International Hill

Climb this year – the 90th historic American event, and the first ever run as a tarmac course. To create a great Pikes Peaker – capable of racing the 156 turns and climbing 4,720 feet to the 14,400 feet finish line at the sum-

mit of Pikes Peak in Colorado – you need a special specification: Lightweight, plenty of downforce and power and capable of breathing where the air is so thin (N/A cars lose 30% power up the top of the huge climb!). The IS F made a great starting point, with its fabulous 5.0-litre V8 knocking out 416bhp and 371lbft, mated to its slick eightspeed semi-automatic gearbox. All that got added was a pair of engine and gearbox coolers, mechanical LSD and a crackingsounding race exhaust system, to save weight and let the V8 rip, with gusto.

But the IS F needed to be more focused, which Lexus did expertly – removing 315Kg, using carbonfibre bonnet, doors, dashboard, door handles, polycarbonite windows and fitting a downforce-inducing composite aero kit – with flat floor, front splitter, bespoke rear diffuser and huge rear wing. The insides were all stripped, caged and race prepped for driver Ken Gushi too. It’s a superbly sorted diet & gym session. Next up, the CCS-R got race brakes, lightweight rims, slick Yokohama tyres and a bespoke suspension set-up, with adjustable camber front upper arms,

custom coilovers and reinforced bushings and mounts. The end result is a physical representation of Lexus’ ‘pursuit of perfection’ in race form. We love it. And it did really well at the epic event (which this year saw the event record smashed, twice), getting a second in class and 32nd overall, with a time of 11:36.175. Now we want to see the CCS-R getting stuck into the VLN Championship in Germany, or similar series. This fabulous car should be seen racing and that V8 should be heard by as many folk as possible.


GS250: V6 of the best The entry-level GS range Lexus is the GS250: ÂŁ32,995 of silky smooth V6 luxrious daily driver which should seriously make Audi, BMW & Mercedes drivers think twice.


t’s a rare day when you even see a GS250 on the road – more’s the pity. It’s a great looking, awesome sounding motor, and it’s a crying shame more of the GS range entry-level cars aren’t being sold. And for the life of me – having just driven one over 1,000 miles from the north Norfolk coast to Cornish southern tip – I can’t understand why that is. Bad marketing? Brand snobbery? Perverted loyalty to another (99% likely to be a German) brand? Invisibility? I can only assume the

GS250 has slipped under the radar. There should be 1000’s everywhere, it’s brilliant. There... I’ve said it. Critics of the GS range cry out, where’s the diesel? But, in case you hadn’t noticed, Lexus hate diesels – and for that we applaud them. Who in their right mind wants a stinking, oil-burning, service-happy, Luddite engine banging and clattering, when they can have a beautiful, smooth, powerful and one of the best-sounding V6 engines available propelling them? It’s not all about

the mpg figure you know. And put aside the myth all V6 engines are thirsty: This 206bhp/252Nm 2.5-litre sixspeed automatic GS250 did over 32mpg on our 1,000 mile test, and it sounded bloody marvellous while doing it. The induction roar on full throttle is nothing short of miraculous. Off the line performance is not staggering, with a 0-60mph time of 8.6s, but it’s a big, heavy, luxuryloaded car, so what do you expect? But, with the weight rolling, the speed

fair piles on over 60mph – peaking out at a decent 143mph. And the six-speed gearbox is as perfectly matched as is possible to the equally silky smooth V6 engine – whether in normal, sport or paddle mode: Perfection. The design and build quality – outside and particularly inside – are as good as the very best cars on the market. Spending time in the GS is an absolute pleasure. Most cars will start to grate somewhere on a 1,000 mile run, but not the GS. I

could have turned around at Cornwall and driven straight back to Norfolk in this. And the GS250, priced at £32,995 is a real bargain in comparison others and to its hybrid big brother, the GS450h, priced at £44,995 – because it’s got the same fine finish and lavish luxuriousness, for £12,00 less. And you have to ask the question, is the extra bhp and mpg from the hybrid worth it? We’re not so sure. The GS250 offers so much. It’s the little, intelligent details that really add up

to making the GS250 so special: Tiny things like the small piece of cushioned material sewn-in between the front seats and the transmission tunnel to catch anything you drop (how many times have we all done that?), the perfect placement of the superbly constructed and designed analogue clock, the intuitive nature of the SatNav and ICE/heating/set-up controls, the ability to perfectly adjust the seating-steering wheel... things SO many manufacturers get wrong.

You get the impression with Lexus that nothing is ever signed off quickly. Every last detail is checked, re-checked, tested and retested, designed and redesigned – and that’s what you pay for. There’s never a Friday afternoon Lexus. All of this attention to detail adds up, so that every facet of driving is as close to perfection as possible – making it a truly enjoyable experience. The driving experience is first class with the GS250 – whether in comfort mode

or sport (available with effective variable suspension, engine and gearbox maps at the flick of a switch), and whatever road you end up on. It all works so well. The extra agility of the GS250 over the 130Kg heavier GS450h makes for added agility too. And its rear-wheel drive is as joyful as it is playful. It’s no oversteering monster, but it will slide nicely... if that’s your bag. But it’s also stable, refined, planted and safe too., which is what most owners will be looking for.

A similarly priced BMW 530i emits 177g/km of CO2 compared to the GS’s 207g/ km and arguably the BMW is faster, too: But I know which one I’d have – the different, classier, sexier, cooler, smoother, more luxurious GS250; if only so I could hear that V6 on a daily basis. It’s really got to be heard. But don’t take my word for it: My car-mad-dad came with me on this monster road trip, and he drives a new BMW 530d and loves it. But he wished he’d known about and tested the GS250 before he bought the BMW by the end of this road trip. And he even stopped talking about diesel mpg figures, while burying the throttle on the V6. The GS250 is a truly sublime car – so sublime, even a BMW 5-Series owner wants one. Enough said?


Hybrid hero?

Kylie may be saying ‘shhhhh’ – but we think the Lexus marketing team should be shouting louder about the interesting, misunderstood CT 200h


he Lexus CT 200h – the smallest, most affordable car in the luxury car maker’s range – has been given some pretty dire reviews; saying whilst being clever and cheap to run, it’s no looker and no fun to drive. But, after a week in the company of a £28,505 CT 200h F-Sport model (not pictured), we’re at a loss to know why the reviews for the world’s first full hybrid hatchback are at best indifferent. The CT 200h F-Sport, with its Arctic Pearl paint, 17inch darkened alloys and Galaxy black leather trim, is at the top end of the CT 200h range – which starts at £22,505 for the S, rising to £31,505 for the Premier, with SE, Advance, Luxury and this F-Sport between. The specifications alter up the range, adding better paint finishes, bigger wheels and luxurious leather and interior options (and there are addition navigation,

sound, protection and sport packs). But the base car is the same throughout the ‘Compact Tourer’ (CT) range (built to take on the likes of BMW’s 1-Series, Audi’s A3 and Alfa Romeo’s Giulietta) – with a Toyota Prius/Auris HSD, front-wheel drive petrol-electric hybrid powertrain, with Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The 1798cc petrol engine delivers 99bhp, with the now 650V (it 500V on launch in 2010) electric motor adding 82bhp (in Sport mode), equating to 134bhp and 142lbft torque, as both peak power figures never occur together. Economy and emission figures are amazing – offering a huge 74mpg and only 96g/Km CO2: Classleading, and with zero road tax to pay. But the performance figures are a little less impressive on paper – 0-60mph in 10.3s and only 112mph flat out. But the stats only tell half the story.

Sure, even in Sport mode (there’s Normal & Eco too) – when the dash flips to a fiery red rev counter from the default, blue powerconsumption/brake regeneration gauge (see left) – it’s not a quick car, in a straight line. But on a twisty road, powering between the bends, you can really get the CT 200h shifting along, using the instantly-available-never-ending thrust of the electric motor to make good progress. And it feels different to its non-hybrid competitors here, as is does pulling away and up to

30mph completely silently, whilst also being super economical and green. Hacks have also criticised the CT for it’s ‘harsh’ handling. But we say good handling. The ride – with its Yamaha damping, double wishbone rear and special turret-bridging ‘performance damping’ – is on the firm side. But, matched to a great chassis, quick steering and good rubber, it’s a solid handling car, and can be fun; if you know how to get the best from it’s modern, innovative ways. The quirky interior (where

the odd, not-so-Lexus flimsy, plastic gear lever and button handbrake mechanism take some time to adjust too) is high quality Lexus, and there’s a hint of the aeronautical about it: It’s different, classy and stylish. And it’s certainly better than a lot of its rivals offer. As are it’s ultra aerodynamic (class leading 0.28 drag coefficient) STi-like, upmarket looks. Quite why folk don’t ‘get’ the CT is beyond us: Quiet, refined, unique and smart, what’s not to like? Hybrid hero? Well, we like it.


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Road 31: Luxurious Lexus  

We look closer at the 'manufacturer of the decade' – Lexus – reviewing the new 2013 LS Range, GS250 V6, CT200h hybrid hatch & Pikes Peak IS...

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