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Lexus LS600hL 2008 Review

Lexus kicked it up a notch with more useful as well as useless features - all for $240,000.

Pressure is on to deliver safer, less polluting, more economical, cheaper, better performing, better equipped and longer lasting vehicles.

It seems almost unachievable but take a look at the new Lexus LS600hL and you will get some idea of where cars are heading in the near future.

This is the techno showpiece from the giant Toyota organisation and as its flagship, the big 600 has a bewildering array of features, some useful, some useless.

Is it over the top, suffering from technology overkill? In some respects, yes, but we can't keep our heads in the sand forever.

Though completely out of the realm of the average Aussie, at $240,000 the LS600hL is actually good value against its direct competitors from Europe, undercutting them by up to $125,000.

And, better yet, useful technology in the 600 will gradually filter down to mainstream cars.

Take the hybrid-drive system, for example. The complex “engine” comprising of a 290kW, 5.0-litre petrol V8 and two electric motors delivers a total of 327kW and about 600Nm of torque to push the 2.4 tonne 600 with surprising velocity. Normally, this would dictate a hefty fuel bill but in the 600's case, it is capable of attaining a mere 9.3-litres/100km and generate only 210g/km of carbon dioxide.

It has a constant all-wheel drive system and an eight-step constantly variable auto transmission with sequential change mode. This has safety and driveability benefits and gives the big 600 quite a sporty feel, enhanced by variable ratio steering and electronic brake assist.

Lexus pushes the 600 and other hybrids in its lineup as guilt-free performance and in this sense, the 600 really delivers.

But it is weird when you start up because the petrol engine doesn't run. Instead, initial motion is provided by the electric motors powered by the large battery pack in the back of the car.

The petrol engine fires up when the accelerator is pushed beyond a certain threshold or speed goes above 40km/h. It shuts off when the car comes to a standstill.

This is only scratching the surface of the 600's technology arsenal. It's one of the first cars to have LED headlights (a set of six) and they are also adaptive they turn with the steering.

It has what is called intelligent park assist that almost parks the car automatically and the climate control system inside has body heat sensors to minutely adjust interior temperature.

The cruise control uses radar to maintain a distance from vehicles in front and the air suspension adapts to any given type of driving or road conditions.

All this is very nice but not really necessary.

The massage seat in the back (with ottoman) is useless because there is not enough legroom to stretch out.

We still haven't figured out the self parking system. If you can't park, you shouldn't be driving. The vehicle has to be stopped to re-program the satnav a major annoyance because the front passenger could do the job on the move.

We must have occasionally performed an incorrect start sequence because the “engine” failed to fire a couple of times. The boot refused to open and all doors except the driver's would not unlock using the key fob.

There are 11 airbags including knee bags and 19 speakers; on what rates as possibly the best audio and in-car entertainment system I have experienced.

There is no doubt that all the goodies inside the 600 are great to experience but working out how they operate is challenging.

Boil this car down to its essence and it is definitely impressive.

Performance is strong with 0-100km/h sprint taking 6.3 seconds. It whispers along at warp speed in near silence and slices through the atmosphere at an aerodynamically efficient 0.29Cd.

The big, handsome limo acquits itself well in sporty driving mode.

The boot is ridiculously small due to the battery pack and we can't begin to explain the level of technology inside the engine apart from saying it has direct fuel injection and variable cam timing.


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LS460 4.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $28,990 – 34,900 2008 Lexus LS 2008 LS460 Pricing and Specs
LS600hl Hybrid (4 Seat) 5.0L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $27,390 – 33,000 2008 Lexus LS 2008 LS600hl Hybrid (4 Seat) Pricing and Specs
LS600hl Hybrid (5 Seat) 5.0L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $26,070 – 32,120 2008 Lexus LS 2008 LS600hl Hybrid (5 Seat) Pricing and Specs
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