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Lexus LS 350 review: Lex is more

Lexus took aim at the Mercedes S-Class with the LS, its very first car. Does the latest version hit its target?

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LEXUS LS 350 LUXURY

Singapore

WHAT is the difference between a new car from Lexus and one from Mercedes-Benz? To succeed, the Lexus has to be good, but the Mercedes only has to be good enough.

That's brand value for you.

But Lexus is no stranger to trying harder than everyone else, and evidence of that is everywhere you look in the new LS 350, a car designed to woo you from the Mercedes fold.

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It may be the most basic version of Lexus' new flagship, but the LS 350 comes with just about every comfort feature known to modern man.

The seats have built-in fans that operate automatically, and if you sit in front you can enjoy a Shiatsu massage. If you'd rather snooze than drive, the back seats recline. There's a little touchscreen back there in case you're no longer on speaking terms with your chauffeur and want to control the climate system or change radio stations.

The Mark Levinson sound system has 23 speakers, and the cabin looks like something assembled by an army of wizened artisans.

There's a little fridge in the back, and the kitchen sink works pretty well. I'm only kidding about one of those, mind you.

Luxury cars are supposed to be plush though, so perhaps the main surprise is how the Lexus is so deft to drive. At more than 2.1 tonnes, it's a bit of a fatty, but its agility makes it feel nice and light on its feet. The V6 engine isn't a powerhouse, but a 10-speed transmission helps the LS 350 hustle along pretty smartly anyway.

While the air suspension works well, the S-Class still feels more cloud-like as it rolls along the road, and it has the LS 350 beat for refinement.

Lexus cars used to be mute, but having discovered its voice, the LS seems intent on using it. The gearbox is surprisingly jerky at times, too, and feels as if it would have benefited from some fine-tuning.

The main stumbling block could be its price, which is S$435,800 including Certificate Of Entitlement. You can buy a Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series for less, though most of the good stuff that's standard in the Lexus is optional (and expensive) in its German rivals. In terms of its equipment levels, at least, the LS 350 is way more than good enough.

LEXUS LS 350 LUXURY

Engine 3,456cc, 24V, V6
Power 316hp at 6,600rpm
Torque 380Nm at 4,800rpm
Gearbox 10-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h (limited)
0-100km/h 6.5 seconds
Fuel efficiency 9.6L/100km
Price S$435,800 with COE
Agent Borneo Motors
Available Now

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