Debuting in Geneva this week, the new Lexus 500h is set to take on the likes of the Tesla Model S and the Mercedes S Class 550e. Thanks to Elon Musk, the Tesla Model S is outselling the likes of the big Mercedes sedan, BMW’s 7 Series, and the Audi A8. Lexus has fallen way behind in the race to sell luxury cars to oligarchs and it wants back in the game. Tesla has made electric luxury sedans cool and so now everyone with a few extra zeroes in their bank account balance wants one.
Will the LS 500 measure up to the competition? Let’s take a look under the hood. The Tesla in its top of the line P100D configuration blasts to 60 in 2.7 seconds, thanks to peak horsepower of around 950. The Mercedes comes with 436 horsepower from its combination of V-6 gasoline engine coupled to an electric motor. The Lexus LS 500h limps into the ring with a V-6 engine and two electric motors, a 10 speed transmission, and a small lithium ion battery. It has 354 horsepower total and wafts to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds — nearly twice as long as the top Model S requires. In short, from a performance point of view, the Lexus is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. There isn’t even a place to plug it in, a serious drawback in an age when the wealthy like to tout their green credentials.
Winning the stop light grand prix is not the only criteria for judging luxury sedans today. Inside, the LS 500h has as much room as the current stretched LS600h. Power footrests are available for rear seat passengers along with heated, cooled, and massaging seats. There are a bunch of cool trim options like “art wood/organic,” “art wood/herringbone,” and “laser cut special.” Luxury cars are all about opulence and riding in hushed quietude, the better to unwind after a hard day in the corporate jungle. From that perspective, the Lexus LS 500h will not disappoint.
Outside, the LS 500h is identical to the standard LS 500 unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January. In other words, it’s handsome in a way that Lexus cars have not been in recent years. Long, flowing lines with few sharp creases conspire to give this enormous car a coupe-like profile. The only flaw is the now traditional wood chipper grille that looks like it would gnaw your arm off at the elbow if you get too close to it. Every manufacturer spends countless hours trying to define it corporate image by how the front of its cars look. At Lexus, apparently a mouthful of sharp teeth like a mutant shark whose parents spent too much time swimming in the waters near the Fukushima nuclear power plant is just what the doctor ordered.
The new LS 500 sedan will go on sale in 2018, with the hybrid version to follow shortly thereafter. Fully equipped, it is expected to sticker at around $90,000.
Source: Automotive News