Large sports saloons are not something usually associated with the brand name Lexus. However the Lexus LS600h F Sport is about to change that perception. The hybrid F Sport version of the LS 460 is surprisingly sporty and for its bulk nimble.
launched late in 2013 the new LS lineup is a major update with over 50% of parts either new or redesigned. The result is as you would expect of Lexus, superb.
The LS600h F Sport is intended to deliver an enjoyable, engaging and inherently sporty drive – traits that are contrary to LS’ historical traits of comfort, quietness and luxury. It manages to combine both. This is reflected in the fact that more than one in four of all Lexus’ sold in Australia is a F Sport variant.
While the LS460 Sport Luxury is more about the comfort of the rear seat passengers the LS 600h F Sport is more about the driver.
Externally the new LS600h F Sport features a slippery aerodynamic stylish shape, with an aggressive looking family grill and a low squat stance befitting a sports saloon. In the time we had the car it generated quite a bit of interest from neighbours and people walking by when parked.
The overall length is 5090mm with a wheelbase of 2970mm, width of 1875mm and height of 1470mm. It carries it’s fairy hefty weight of 2340kg on a Bridgestone Turanza ER33 245/45R19 8.0J wheel and tyre combination. Thanks in part to the hollow wheels there is imperceptible road noise.
Step inside and you immediately notice quality, space and efficiency.
The front seats are comfortable and firm to support over long periods at the wheel. They are 16 way electrically adjustable with memory settings. Combine with the electrically adjustable heated leather steering wheel and you can get the perfect driving position no matter what your size.
In front of the driver is a dual dial style dash with two half outer dials, and a centre multi function display. All clear and easy to read as you would expect. In ECO, NORMAL and COMFORT modes dial illumination and multi-information displays feature blue lighting.
When drivers select either of the sport modes the instrument lighting switches to red, and additionally for the Hybrid models, the hybrid meter changes to a tachometer.
The centre stack houses the 12.3 inch display for navigation and maps in conjunction with driver-defined audio, climate control or vehicle efficiency screens via a split display. Control of the display functions is via the clever and intuitive ‘mouse’ system. It’s one of those design features that people seem to like or hate. I like it.
Entertainment is catered for by a state of the art 450 watt,19 speaker Mark Levinson audio that has been specifically tuned for the Lexus cabin. In addition it features Bluetooth™* audio streaming, advanced Bluetooth, iPod®^, USB+ and radio capabilities along with DAB+ digital radio as standard.
In addition to playing Blu-ray discs, the system can play regular DVD audio and video, music CDs, video CDs and MP3 data. Make no mistake about it this is a truly fantastic entertainment system for the audiophile.
One feature that s becoming more popular is a self correcting analogue clock. It seems retro is in with vehicle interior designers.
The centre console bin is well designed, with plenty of storage, a sliding/tilting lid that takes a little getting used to but works a treat once you do. There are cup holders, door storage and glove box as well.
The LS600h F Sport is packed full of luxury features, way too many to mention here but the highlights include Advanced Illumination System (AIS) and Climate Concierge, an advanced climate control system combines the benefits of the previous model’s multi-zone climate control system with automatic integration of the seat heating and cooling systems, and the steering wheel rim heater.
Rear seat passengers are well catered for, not to the same degree of luxury that the LS 460 Sport Luxury passengers are, but in normal circumstances the rear passengers lack nothing. They have adequate head, shoulder, knee and leg room, even with tall drivers. There is a fold down centre arm rest and the rear seats are individually sculptured so better suited for two rather than three passengers.
The Achilles heel is the boot space. In the 2013 version Lexus have gone a long way to addressing this problem with a substantially larger boot area but it is still small by the standards of a luxury saloon of this size.
Safety is obviously a key feature with latest generation of Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamic Integrated Management (VDIM) system. Lexus’ VDIM system is designed to enhance performance, traction control and vehicle stability by linking LS Line active safety, steering and suspension control functions.
VDIM controls functions such as the electronically controlled braking (ECB), ABS anti-lock brakes, electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), traction control (TRC) and vehicle stability control (VSC), adaptive variable suspension (AVS), electronic power steering (EPS) and variable gear ratio steering (VGRS) systems.
Driver Fatigue Monitor (DFM) Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) All-Speed Active Cruise Control (ACC) with Automatic High Beam (AHB)
Lexus LS 600h F Sport has the Advanced Pre-Crash safety System (PCS) as well as a stronger body structure, frontal-collision impact-absorbing structures and improved pedestrian-safety measures.
There is 8 SRS airbags, including an SRS twin chamber front passenger airbag, seat mounted SRS side airbags and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. There are also SRS side curtain shield airbags extending from the front to the rear.
So as this is a F Sport variant , what does it drive like? The short answer is great. For a car this size and weight it performs beautifully. The hybrid system ensures instant torque and the powerful V8 motor takes over. We drove the LS 460 Sport Luxury the week before and that seemed as responsive probably because it weighed less.
The LS600h F Sport is powered by a 5.0L V8 petrol engine combined with a full hybrid through two electric motors. The V8 motor delivers power of 290 Kw @ 6,400 rpm with 327Kw when combined with the electric motors and torque of 520 Nm @ 4,000. The vehicle’s 650-volt water-cooled electric drive motor delivers 165kW of power and 300Nm of torque, with that torque available from zero rpm.
LS 600h’s hybrid system blends the two power sources according to operating conditions to provide a maximum 327kW of power – equivalent to a six-litre petrol engine. Hence the 600h moniker.
This power is transferred to the road through an 8 speed automatic transmission with the new LS Lexus Drive Mode Select, offering five switchable driving modes to optimise the driver’s preferred combination of economy, comfort, performance and handling.
So the drivetrain system consists of a five-litre quad cam V8 engine, two motor-generators linked by a double set of planetary gears, a Torsen limited-slip centre differential and a gear-drive transfer to a permanent AWD system. Together, the planetary gears act as a clutchless eight-step Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission (E-CVT). Makes my head spin really.
Performance wise the LS 600h F Sport will go from 0-100kmh in 5.7 seconds, top out at an electrically controlled 250kmh and do this while sipping fuel at an average of 8.6 L/100km. Considering it is hauling a bulk of 2340kg give or take and this performance is spectacular.
When in sport + mode the LS600h F Sport doesn’t feel like a large car. Its ability belies it’s bulk. Switch to comfort and you have a typical boulevard cruiser, switch to economy and you will be left wondering who stole your engine. Yes the Drive Mode Select system really works. By the way on sport + mode it is FUN to drive.
The front and rear suspension system is the LS Line multilink air suspension system with hardware and control software to increase ride comfort, reduce roll angles and improve initial response to steering inputs.
The latest-generation system has electronic four-wheel linked control of the Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system to provide a flatter, more comfortable ride.
Unlike the vast majority of Australians, if you are in the market to spend nearly a quarter of a million dollars on a motor car, the Lexus LS600h F Sport should absolutely be on your list. It is jammed with standard features, combines extraordinary technology with a completely fool proof user interface and has a unique blending of performance, handling and reasonable fuel economy.
At this level of spend you also want something that stands out from other mere mortal vehicles. The LS600h F Sport provides that as well. It almost makes me a believer in hybrid technology.
What is good:
• Performance and fuel economy balance
• Build Quality
• User friendly technology
What is not so good:
• Small boot
• No heads up display
• Hefty weight
Model Lexus LS 600h F Sport
Model Price $231,795 RDAP
Engine 5.0L V8 & Two electric motors
Drivetrain AWD with 8step E-CVT
Power 290 Kw @ 6,400 rpm 327Kw combined
Torque 520 Nm @ 4,000
Safety 5 Star ANCAP
CO2 Emissions 199 g/km
Green Vehicle Rating 4 Star
Economy (ADR comb) 8.6L/100km
Tow Capacity – N/A
Tow Ball Rating N/A
Servicing $Not Supplied
Warranty 4yr/100,000km with full roadside assist
Overall OzRoamer Rating 91/100
Behind the Wheel 9
Ride & Handling 9
Fit for Purpose 8
Build Quality 10
Value for Money 8