Our Cars: Lexus LS600hL – final report (weeks 8 & 9)

Buy this car, this actual car…

By Shahzad Sheikh

21st May – 5th June

Lexus LS600hL long term test in Dubai

We ran Lexus’ flagship hybrid limo for over 9 weeks and covered 4100km, and despite the fact that it’s about to be replaced next year, learnt that it’s far from long-in-the-tooth.

It’s a strange one, the LS600hL… they really need to just delete the blue haloed ‘h’ off the badge so that nobody will know it’s a dreaded ‘hybrid’ – that word seems to be perceived as a sign of weakness and capitulation to the tofu-eating annoyists blowing emission standards in your face all the time.

So everyone ignores it and goes for the LS460. Even though LS600 is more powerful, faster and will save you fuel – over our time we averaged 11.8L/100km (even dropping as low as 10.0L/100km on one tankful) with a realistic range of well over 700km on tank – that’s from a 5.0-litre V8 (the LS460 is a 4.6-litre V8).

Of course you’d have to do a mega-miles per year to make that fuel saving worth spending the around AED100,000 extra for the hybrid over the LS460. But another plus side is that the big Lexus is quieter than a Rolls-Royce when it glides along on electric power only – how’s that for refinement?

Apart from a couple of early glitches (the wipers didn’t work in the midst of the only smattering of rain we’ve had all year in Dubai, and the computer failed to reset itself a couple of times after refuelling – although that only happened to Imthishan, not to me, so I’m blaming him for that!) it performed as flawlessly as you’d expect.

Lexus LS600hL long term test in Dubai

Whether it was munching big miles or cruising around town, scooting between meetings or taking the family out, it’s an effortless companion that you just know will never let you down. The comfort, ride and quality is superb – and we really aren’t joking when we say it’s one of the best cars to put yourself at ease in this side of a Rolls. Very calming.

But you could drive it in different styles – I always preferred to discreetly glide around in it, being extremely gracious and generous because that’s the state of mind it put me in – all’s well with the world. Imthishan however drove it local-style, bombing about the place bullishly with a ‘me-first’ stance. The LS was fine with either.

Lexus LS600hL long term test in Dubai

So the advantages of this car:
• Quiet, refined, comfortable, effortless
• You can go nearly 800km between visits to the petrol station
• Buy it in white and everyone thinks you’re important and gets out of your way
• Robust and reliable

Disadvantages of this car:
• You lose it in the car park amongst the sea of other white Lexi
• It’s expensive – AED 472,000 ($128k) for top spec
• You hardly remember driving to where you got to
• Sat-nav, in-car controls feel dated
• No Bluetooth audio streaming
• The luxury is passenger-orientated

Lexus LS600hL long term test in Dubai

Hey? What was that last bit?

Well, in addition to the big comfy rear sofa and masses of legroom, it’s got that amazing Ottoman seat in the back – just on the passenger side – which extends and reclines and has two levels of massage. And do you know who is the only person that benefitted from that the whole time we had the car? My 12-year old son. Yeah, like he really needs that?!

Plus the kids got a brilliant DVD entertainment system in the rear, but the problem was that that every time they watch a movie or cartoon the wife and I had to listen to their soundtrack rather than the radio or our favourite tunes. Based upon which you have to conclude that this car is geared towards being a Chauffeur-driven thing than a Rolls.

Still, if that’s what you’re after – to be driven around – then should you buy one of these? Yes and no. Don’t buy a new version of this car. Buy it used – you can get it for well over AED100k cheaper than the new price.

And next year prices will fall further. Why? Because there’s a new one out. And judging by the huge step up the new Lexus GS took over its predecessor, we’re expecting the new LS to be quite a splendid beast indeed, putting it right back in contention with the S-Class, 7-series and Audi A8.

Lexus LS600hL long term test in Dubai

Besides if you’re willing to go LS460 and bit older – they’ve looked pretty much the same since 2008 – you can pick one up for as little as AED150,000, and who’s to know that you’re NOT actually driving a half-million dirham car around.

Admittedly there aren’t many late model cars in the market at the moment, and no LS600hL models that I could find, but this car’s just gone back with 6781km on the clock and a small scratch on the inside of the front right wheelarch which I’m sure Al-Futtaim Lexus will get fixed before they put it up on sale. So go inquire.

If, however, whilst you’re at the Lexus showroom and convince yourself that it’s really a new car you want – go for a GS – preferably the 350 F-Sport, it’s a BMW 5-series challenger and actually quite brilliant – starting from AED180k to AED260k, it’s a bargain by comparison.

Part 1 – week 1
Part 2 – week 2&3
Part 3 – week 4
Part 4 – week 5
Part 5 – week 6&7
Final Part 6 – week 8&9

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