The new Lexus LM isn’t a posh van, rather a staggeringly luxurious car if you never intend on venturing out from the back seat
4.0 out of 5
The Lexus LM is a new type of car for us Europeans, yet despite its relative oddness does a brilliant job of channelling superior luxury. More a movable living room than a car, the LM pampers its occupants like nothing else this side of a Lear Jet. The only thing missing is the in-cabin crew.
This is the Lexus LM, a new type of flagship boasting unparalleled luxury and incredible features. Easily breaking a six-figure price point it enters a new genre for the Japanese brand, and just like Lexus did 30 years ago with the LS, changes the luxury car game. Available in base – but still superbly equipped – seven seat form and this top-spec four-seater Takumi model, the LM is Lexus’s new-age idea of a modern luxury car, and makes a very compelling case for itself.
A square-sided people carrier might not naturally assume a luxury status, but these sorts of high-end vans have been finding an audience amongst chauffeur and transport companies in Asian markets for years. More recently, private buyers have also been getting in on the action, and after much success with the first-generation LM, this all-new second iteration will now be built and sold as a global model, with sales starting in the UK at a price above the traditional LS saloon.
Don’t let those armoire-like proportions fool you, though, as while it might look like a glitzed up commercial vehicle, the LM350h is instead based on the more sophisticated GA-K road car platform as used by the NX and RX SUVs. Featuring a 247bhp hybrid powertrain with either front or all-wheel drive, it pairs a traditional Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder petrol engine and Toyota’s self-charging hybrid system.
From behind the wheel the LM drives with a remarkable level of smoothness. Ride quality is exceptional, isolating bumps with finesse yet remaining controlled even over complex undulations. This is entirely due to the sophisticated car-based suspension, and while the centre of gravity is high, part of this exceptional ride quality comes down to the Lexus’s ability to control that mass, even on twistier country roads. Aside from the lofty driving position and seemingly never-ending windscreen, there’s no indication that this is anything other than an ultra-luxurious Lexus.
It’s not a fast car, though, reaching 62mph in 8.7 seconds in all-wheel drive models. In fact the effort required of the powertrain to get the LM’s bulk moving is perhaps the only black mark against its luxurious ambiance, with the drone of its CVT-driven petrol engine being the only source of undesirable noise inside the cabin. Drive it in a more stately manner, however, and it’s a fine powertrain for the job. It’s also relatively frugal, being capable of around 39mpg, and when pootling through towns and cities – which will be its more common environment – retains an ability to rely largely on its electric motor, reducing powertrain-associated noise and vibrations to almost nil.
There are differing drive modes, with a hilarious Sports setting, plus Eco and Comfort modes. But unique to the LM is a further Comfort Rear mode, which creates a specific set of calibrations to the steering, throttle, and adaptive suspension focused on benefiting the rear-seat passengers. In fact, the LM’s unwavering focus on this core deliverable is what leaves the biggest impression, and one that’s totally unique in the UK market.
Wait for the sliding rear door to effortlessly glide open and you’re greeted to a cabin that’s opulent to the extreme, with a sea of soft-touch plastics and high-grade leather. All models have glazed sections in the roof, with a ceiling-mounted console featuring book-matched timber veneer and physical controls for all your ventilation and lighting. But it’s the Takumi model with just the two captain's chairs and a central divider housing a massive 48-inch screen which creates the big initial impression. But sink into the unbelievably comfortable rear chairs, recline back (to almost flat, if you wish), select one of five massage functions and you’d be hard pressed to find a more luxurious experience on four wheels.
We could go on about the toys and gadgets, but its biggest draw is that unlike a Mercedes S-Class or BMW 7 Series, the LM350h doesn’t really feel like a luxury car, rather a Lear Jet that just so happens to never leave the ground.
Lexus is confident that there will be a market for such a car here in Europe, and it’s a confidence that’s been ratified by the fact it’s already over-subscribed. As it stands, Lexus UK has over 170 units already on pre-order, which is nearly nine times the typical annual volume of its LS flagship.
So while the luxury saloon market might be shrinking, luxury car buyers now have one more van-shaped reason not to bother going back.
|Model:||Lexus LM350h Takumi|
|Engine:||2.0-litre petrol, full-hybrid|
|Transmission:||CVT auto, four-wheel drive|
Source: Read Full Article