Above all else, the LS600h L is an extremely complex machine. Attempting to compress its colossal array of features and capabilities into a handful of simple soundbites is therefore inevitably a little facile. And yet two overriding impressions emerge above all others. This is an immensely polished car, yet one that suffers from massive overkill. The first point reflects the fact that Lexus simply doesn’t do underdeveloped. Its engineers are renowned for the lengths taken to iron out any traces of harshness or imperfection. The result, from the near-silent hum of the V8 to the slick navigation interface, is a supremely refined and well finished vehicle.
But in the context of its supposedly planet-friendly hybrid architecture, it’s also monstrously overwrought. There is little doubt, for instance, that a fairly modest diesel powerplant of perhaps 3.5l in capacity would deliver comparable fuel efficiency to the massively complex petrol-electric system Lexus has chosen, as well as all the performance this car needs in the real world. More to the point, a diesel engine as part of the hybrid system would deliver much better overall fuel consumption. In that sense, the environmentally friendly pretence is almost obscene. Hybrid drivetrain or no hybrid drivetrain, the 600h’s priorities lie in comfort and effortless performance, not efficiency.
Making matters worse are the infotainment and communication systems. Despite numerous strengths, the fact that they feature a number of obvious shortcomings compared to not only widely available aftermarket technology and LS variants available in other markets but also systems from competing car makers doesn’t exactly sweeten the £80,000 deal the LS demands. In a way, the expertise and effort that Lexus has invested in this car make conventional criticism seem churlish. After all, in so many regards this vehicle is a glorious example of 21st century luxury motoring. But there’s no avoiding the final analysis. The LS600h L is also a strangely flawed machine.