2013 Lexus LS460 F-Sport

Rapid, comfy but still not a sports saloon
by Imthishan Giado

Lexus LS F-Sport

The Lexus LS460 F-Sport is the closest a car will ever come to the experience of Michael Jackson’s Bad album from 1987. Stay with me – I haven’t lost my marbles.

Keen music fans will know that Bad had it all to do. For starters, it had the daunting task of trying to outsell the biggest-selling album of all time, Thriller. More importantly, it was Michael Jackson’s attempt to show black audiences that he had street credibility and belonged to the culture, not the white crossover market with which he had been so successful. If you doubt the claim, watch the rarely-seen full length video, a strange Scorcese-directed short film where weedy Michael successfully (some might say miraculously) transitions from schoolboy to inner city tough.

Lexus LS F-Sport

In the same vein – the Lexus LS460 is the followup to one of the region’s most beloved luxury limos and it has to make sure that it lives up to that billing by being impeccably built, whisper-quiet and highway rapid. As Shahzad found out the all-new 2013 model fills in most of the blanks and hits all the necessary marks, if not really pushing the boundaries.

Lexus LS F-Sport

But the F-Sport is different. This is Bad, Lexus-style, the company’s attempt to show it can do a proper sports saloon. To whit, the F-Sport features different larger front and rear bumper fascias, a lower ride height courtesy of some reworked air suspension, paddle shifters on the now-sharper steering, a torsen limited-slip diff out back , even more heavily bolstered sports seats with embossed logos on the headrests and most importantly of all, absolutely gorgeous 19” BBS alloys. That’s BBS Japan, not BBS Europe, so they’re even more exclusive. Oh, and you can only get the F-Sport trim in short-wheelbase, so no limo drivers need apply.

Lexus LS F-Sport

From behind the wheel, there’s hardly any difference, except for the fact that every stop, you can feel the embossed logos pressing the back of your head. In terms of specification, this car gets virtually every toy on the top-dog LS Platinum LWB, including the hard-kicking 19-speaker Mark Levinson Reference sound system, and must-have radar cruise control. What doesn’t it get? The ‘rear seat’ Relaxation package (basically the reclining LWB ottoman seat with full massage options) and Lane Keep Assist, aka a little sensor that nudges the car back into lane if you stray across the white lines.

Lexus LS F-Sport

Does all that hardware add to a better drive? For the most part – no. This is still a big, heavy barge that weighs over two tons, and all the stiff suspension and magic steering can’t hide that fact from the driver. The steering is reasonably direct in its inputs but remains low in terms of feedback at the limit, although this version does feel sharper than the base car in Sport and harder-still Sport+ modes. Bigger changes are found in the areas of braking and suspension; these stoppers are well up to the job of hauling the big girl down from triple digit speeds with ease and seem resistant to fade, a considerable upgrade from the stock car.

Lexus LS F-Sport

The suspension is a trickier matter to judge. Go full-hardcore Sports+ and the suspension gets very stiff indeed, introducing a lot of vertical motion over the slightest bumps. Body roll is reduced but still noticeably present; overall the F-Sport drives marginally better than the standard LS460 but you’d only really notice the difference back-to-back. For most, the balance will be ideal.

Lexus LS F-Sport

Verdict
Despite the tough looks, all the LS460 really wants to do is cruise down the highway, cocooning you within its outstandingly-quiet world. Normally I’d mark a car down for missing its objective, but you know what? For the F-Sport, this level of minor refinement feels just right. It’s the best looking LS by a long, long shot and for customers who value true isolation, it’s the pick of the range.

 

2013 Lexus LS 460

Specs

How much? AED395k ($107,700)
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

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