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Lexus LS600h L
If Lexus is synonymous with a very particular brand of opulent techno-luxury, the LS600h L is surely the distillation of the very finest mechanical wizardry and in-car comfort the Japanese car maker has to offer. In no particular order, this five-metre uber-saloon's edited highlights include multiple radar and infra-red detection systems, driver monitoring, pre-crash technology including assisted steering and brakes, intelligent cruise control and self-parking. That's right, folks. This car can drive itself, at least partially.
Of course, as the 'h' variant of the flagship LS range, it's more than just the closest thing currently available to an automotive robot. It also sports a hybrid powertrain, combining an impossibly refined V8 engine with an electric motor. This translates into what Lexus describes as the performance of a 6.0L V12 engine with better-than 5.0L V8 efficiency. So, say what you want about the environmental credentials of a two-tonne limousine with Porsche Boxster-bashing performance. There's no doubting hybrid drivetrains are set to become increasingly important over the next decade.
Along with the epic drivetrain and aforementioned panoply of driver aids and active safety features, the LS also packs an infotainment system with a monster specification. Then there's the comprehensive comfort and luxury feature set. Everything is electric, from the soft-closing doors, the remote control bootlid and the ludicrously sumptuous, leather-clad rear 'ottoman' throne that literally massages its occupant.
But despite its many advanced, even futuristic features, this big Lexus is also something of a dinosaur. We'll come to the specifics momentarily. Suffice to say for now, various aftermarket devices can be bought for £200 or less that will endow any car with significantly more power and features in areas such as media playback and GPS navigation than this mighty, £80,000 mobile techfest can muster.
The centrepiece of the 600h's interior, at least as far as front-seat occupants are concerned, is undoubtedly the infotainment system. Key components include the dash-mounted 8in touchscreen, Bluetooth, voice command and steering wheel controls.
In terms of the overall human-machine interface, it's a largely traditional architecture. Unlike BMW's iDrive or Audi's MMI, therefore, Lexus has made absolutely no attempt to consolidate a wide range of functions into a single, multi-function puck or joystick controller. Instead, the large touchscreen is surrounded by old school shortcut buttons providing instant access to commonly used features including navigation, climate and audio.
The immediate effect of this is to make the Lexus a fairly friendly and intuitive machine for first time users. Anyone with a passing familiarity with typical in-car systems will be up and running rapidly. In other words, many functions and features are accessible enough to save you the hassle of referring to the encyclopaedic tomes that are the 600h's manuals.