Driven - Lexus LS460

In the USA Lexus outguns all other premium marques, but Australia has been considerably slower on the uptake, where the prestige of a BMW or Mercedes-Benz means much more. While previous range-topping Lexus models have been beautifully made and well equipped, they've suffered from derivative styling and a lack of presence.

The latest big LS460 was launched to worldwide acclaim. While it's a little too reminiscent of a big Toyota from some angles (at least it's not a Mercedes clone like the previous LS), it has far more presence and there's no denying that it has the quality hallmarks for which Lexus is renowned. That said, it's lacking any real depth of character.

Throughout the LS460 the finish is exemplary and nobody could fail to be impressed by the level of equipment. Standard fare includes a reversing camera, rear passenger DVD player, four individually power adjustable heated and cooled seats (through perforated leather), sat-nav system, power closing doors and bootlid and even - this was a novelty for me - a heated steering wheel. Automatic reverse parallel parking is an interesting addition too... but much slower in practice than doing it yourself.

The Lexus hallmark of a solid feel to the car is there in spades. Nobody could fail to be impressed by how nicely put together this car feels and it sits on the road beautifully. As the top of the range Lexus, the efforts the company has gone to are very evident.

It's quiet, extremely smooth and easy to manoeuvre for a large car. When you push it, the big Lexus gives performance and handling which would surprise HSV drivers. It's that good. Buyers of other prestige marques would do well to take one for a drive.

Engine Type: 4.6-litre quad-cam V8
Power: 280kW
Torque: 493Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Performance: Top speed 2435km/h, 0-100 km/h 5.7 seconds
Price: $184,900 at time of review
Photos & text - Paul Blank (copyright)