Audi A8 3.0 TDI 2014 review
The latest version of the big Audi A8 saloon, and its sporting brother the Audi S8, have finally arrived in Australia.
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Now that the LFA supercar has been dropped, king of the Lexus range is the LS600h about as far away from the LFA as a car can get.
But the good news is that to get into the top Lexus, you won't have to spend three quarters of a million bucks, you'll need only $217,900 much of which is taxation. You get a lot of car for the money as the 600 offers a grab bag of technology including a V8 petrol/electric hybrid power plant, all-wheel drive and adaptive air suspension.
Mind you, playing in this part of town pretty much demands you have a solid features list. Competition is strong from the Benz S-Class (now and old vehicle), the new BMW 7-Series and the Audi A8.
Buyers with a green tinge will appreciate the 600's environmental credentials which see it scoring an impressive 4.5 star rating on the Government Green Vehicle Rating. It scores a five star crash rating.
Two models are available, normal; and long wheelbase both in F-Sport spec' which brings with it active stabiliser bars to prevent body roll, Brembo brakes with large discs, BBS 19-inch alloy wheels and a torsen centre differential for the permanent all-wheel drive system.
Lexus has moved the LS range more towards the enthusiast driver with the current, spindle grille equipped model. This is interesting because many cars in this segment are not owner driven.
The 600 has sporty driving dynamics even though it's a big heavy car tipping the scales at around 2300kg. The chassis is reinforced compared with the previous model and brake feel improved.
They put in variable gear steering, multi-mode (5) drive select offering: Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Comfort at the click of a button. These modes influence the car's dynamics through steering, powertrain and suspension adjustment.
It runs a 5.0-litre petrol V8 engine with direct and port injection like the Toyota 86 sports car. Variable cam timing further improves efficiency while extra performance is available through the hybrid-electric drive motor and battery pack. Interesting to see an old school nickel metal hydride battery instead of lighter, newer lithium-ion technology.
The engine is actually a bored-out 4.6 litre unit from the LS460. Drive is via an eight-step CVT auto with paddle shift. The combined output from both power generators is 327kW/520Nm sufficient to propel the big 600 from 0-100km/h in a quick 5.7 seconds in near silence consuming as little as 8.6 litres/100km of 95 RON petrol.
Speaking of which, Lexus has made further improvements to its trademark smooth/quiet ride with this new model through better design and more sound deadening material.
That other Lexus hallmark luxury features is almost completely over the top in this model right down to a front seat ottoman for the passenger.
There's a Blu-ray player with screens in the front and two in the back, a Mark Levinson audio system, comprehensive multimedia connectivity, a computer mouse style remote touch system, power adjustment to the seats that are also heated and ventilated in the front, leather, and possibly the largest touch screen in the business at 12.3 inches.
Driver assistance features include radar cruise control, blind spot warning reverse camera, park assist, auto high beam and driver fatigue alert.
The drive feel is good if a touch remote. You seem to waft along in a sealed cocoon of luxury that, when it takes your fancy, can be driven like a large sports sedan.
The adaptive air suspension is supple but controlled and the active stabilisers keep the big car flat without affecting ride quality. We tried all five drive modes and found auto to be the best.
Acceleration is rapid and cruise mode a dream that helps the kilometres tick over in a flash. But there's no stirring exhaust note to speak off and the light steering still feels a tad disconnected.
We can't understand why they fit relatively skinny tyres on such a big car because apart from limiting grip, it also looks bad. Cabin ambience is relaxed and hi-tech a good placed to be. We aren't sold on the new look and suggest the spindle grille needs to be toned down a tad.
Would we go the Lexus way instead of European? Maybe. The new 7-Series is an impressive vehicle, excellent diesel and petrol engines, the Benz is due for replacement this year and the Audi, well . . .
If it was going to be a Lexus, it would be the LS460 in some form. You don't really need all-wheel drive, a front seat ottoman and other superfluous features found in the LS600.
Price: from $243,314
Engine: 5-litre 8 cylinder petrol and hybrid-electric drive, 327kW/520Nm
Transmission: 8-speed CVT-auto, 4WD
Thirst: 9.3L/100km, CO2 219 g/km
|LS460 F-SPORT||4.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$53,240 – 61,160||2013 Lexus LS 2013 LS460 F-SPORT Pricing and Specs|
|LS600hl Hybrid (4 Seat)||5.0L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO||No recent listings||2013 Lexus LS 2013 LS600hl Hybrid (4 Seat) Pricing and Specs|
|LS600hl Hybrid (5 Seat)||5.0L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO||$136,620 – 157,080||2013 Lexus LS 2013 LS600hl Hybrid (5 Seat) Pricing and Specs|
|LS600h Hybrid F-Sport||5.0L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO||$67,100 – 77,110||2013 Lexus LS 2013 LS600h Hybrid F-Sport Pricing and Specs|