2013 Lexus LS 460L Review

Just fix the bits that need fixing

By Shahzad Sheikh

2013 LS 460 L tested in UAE

It if ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Lexus Flagship saloon, most certainly ain’t broke. Over 730,000 LS luxury cruisers over four generations have been sold in the 23 years since it was launched. I ran 2012 Lexus LS600hL recently as a long-term test car – read how I got on here – and concluded that it still remained one of the leading options in its segment by far.

My only concerns were the dreary styling, dated cabin and the ageing interior electronics and interfaces, especially when compared with the brilliant new Lexus GS (read our review here).

And that’s precisely what Lexus has done with the new LS – fixed the bits that needed fixing. Okay, so it’s not ‘all-new’ but don’t for a minute dismiss it as merely a facelift. There are over 3000 changes for the new car, including several entirely new innovations for the big Lexus.

Whilst we attended the press launch about a month ago, that was just a brief introduction to the car, with a tightly controlled convoy drive, and we didn’t really gain much impression of the car beyond what we already know about it.

Since then I’ve had an LS 460L in for a few days to try out by myself – so how does it compare with the previous car?

2013 LS 460 L tested in UAE

Evolutionary style

Firstly the looks. The side profile and rear all remain comfortingly familiar – although the bootlid is completely redesigned with re-shaped taillight reflectors and integrated spoiler, and the side skirts and rear bumper have been tweaked too.

The big change of course, is at the front where it adopts the ‘spindle’ grille new Lexus family look giving it a sharp-edged forward jutting appearance. It’s certainly a far more distinctive and aggressive face than the vanilla visage of its predecessor and it gives the entire car a new attitude and character. The F-Sport version is more aggressive still – but we’ll leave that for a separate review.

The real revelation though, is once you get in the car. Apart from a few buttons, almost nothing from the previous car has been carried over. This is an entirely fresh design and boasts the quality feel, sombre presentation, and hi-techary that befits a super saloon of this standing.

2013 LS 460 L tested in UAE

Completely redesigned interior

The interior is dominated by that massive 12.3-inch centre screen and it now finally gets the mouse-like controller and wristpad introduced some time ago on some of the other cars in the Lexus range. It’s very intuitive and easy to control, and gives you access to a far greater level of connectivity and gadgetry than ever before.

This freshening of course extends to the rest of the obviously opulent interior which now comes in either four or five seat configuration and still has the right-rear passenger side Ottoman chair that reclines, relaxes and massages a weary traveller – on in my case a spoilt 12-year old son on the way home from school!

This car is now packed to the sun-visors with technology and toys, too many to go into now – get yourself a brochure. But one of the key offerings they’re particularly proud of, and admittedly which could be of utmost benefit in our hot weather, is the ‘Climate Concierge’, a system designed to alter the interior ambience and seat temperature according to the body temperature of each individual passenger.

Now I don’t know where the Concierge actually lived in the car, but I suspect he tendered his resignation and strode away in a huff the moment I got in the car. Not because I smell, but with the weather being as good as it is these days, I immediately dropped the windows, slid back the sunroof and pumped up the 450-Watt 19-speaker Mark Levinson, playing Soul System’s ‘It’s Gonna Be A Lovely Day’ through my Bluetoothed-phone, and went for a cruise.

2013 LS 460 L tested in UAE

Driving the LS

Lexus says the body rigidity has been improved and the shocks and adaptive variable suspension has been tweaked for improved pitch, bounce and tighter body control. The steering is said to be more accurate and responsive and the braking has been enhanced for strong braking and better feel. In addition to this, it’s aped BMW’s 7 with switchable driving modes: ECO, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport+.

So considering all that, how does it feel in comparison with the previous car? Pretty much the same actually. Okay, the body is slightly better damped when you throw the car into a corner or roundabout, and there’s a tad more confidence from the steering. But frankly speaking you try the Sport and Sport+ once, then you shift it back into Normal or Comfort and let the LS do what it does best: glide serenely, effortless, and quickly as possible in a seemly and dignified manner.

According the literature there are few more sportier tweaks to the F-Sport version and it will be interesting to try that and see if it’s any keener than the regular flavour, but as it is, the LS stays true to form and that is to offer the most fuss-free luxury car experience available. And somehow they’ve made it even quieter now, probably moreso than anything this side of a Rolls-Royce – as long as you keep the stereo off of course.

As already hinted at, the performance has improved as the horsepower increases slightly with a 0-100kph time of 5.7 seconds versus the 6.1 of the previous car. It remains a luxo-barge that will display the utmost urgency when called upon, just as it always has.

2013 LS 460 L tested in UAE

Verdict

So Lexus has executed a very clever and well judged update to its most regal car by just addressing the bits that need work. To a new owner the car looks different enough on the outside, and feels utterly up-to-date inside. And for an existing LS owner wanting to upgrade, there’s no surprises, just all the good stuff he likes, and all the bad stuff banished.

The LS 460L remains one of the accomplished and desirable top-end luxury saloons on the market. It also remains safe (well it’s got 11 airbags, adaptive lights, lane-keep and blind-spot assist, night vision and even crash avoidance systems) and sensible.

A question that will remain though is whether Lexus has done enough? The BMW 7 series has undergone a similar revival and is equally matched on price and a little more keener to drive.

Then there’s Cadillac’s XTS which may offer a smaller engine and a little less room, but responds with a price tag that’s only about half as much, and kick-us electronics system, plus it’s surprisingly entertaining to drive.
But the real danger is the all-new Mercedes S-Class which will appear next year, and which threatens to set totally new standards in the class.

But to Lexus fans, none of that matters, because if you liked the LS before, you’ll love the new LS even more today.

2013 Lexus LS 460
Specs
Price:
LS 460 Premier AED325k ($88,600)
LS 460 F Sport AED395k ($107,700)
LS 460L Prestige AED375k ($102,200)
LS 460L Platinum AED494k ($134,600)
LS 460L Titanium AED498k ($135,700)
Engine: 4.6-litre V8, 382bhp @ 6400rpm, 364b ft @ 4100rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 5.7s, 250kph
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, Rear-wheel drive
Weight: 2080kg

 

3 responses to “2013 Lexus LS 460L Review”

  1. syed ayub says:

    my car shows a program cannot read data in display…pls tell me what the exact problem…my car is lexus ls 460..i am wiating for your reply.

  2. lexluther says:

    I don’t get where people thinks the L’s gets its design from Mercedes …Have you seen the comparison of Lexus to Mercedes …Mercedes are the one who is copying lexus. If you love perfection then the LS is the car to get. If you want to complain how much your car such then buy a Mercedes or a BMW. People who talk bad about Lexus usually drive a European rival so i don’t care at least i am comfortable and enjoying luxury …In the best luxury sedan the LS

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