Japanese luxury inches ever so close to Germany’s reign over the segment.
Prior to a big auto show reveal, each automaker likes to tease its upcoming vehicles in small pieces in an intricate marketing ploy to extend their press time, much like a bakery hands out small samples of cookie in order to take our attention off on the subject at hand when passing by. Dodge seems to have gone a bit overboard with that lately, but Lexus has been fairly modest about its New York Auto Show reveal, the LS 500 F Sport. In our humble opinion, more quiet than its hardware deserves.
Just a day ahead before the 2018 New York show commences, and perhaps not coincidentally hours before the Dodge Challenger Demon’s reveal, Lexus has chosen to take the wraps off of the 2018 Lexus LS 500 F Sport. For quite some time, Lexus has played coy with the LS, knowing full well it won’t compete with enduring badges like Mercedes’ S-Class or BMW’s 7 Series, but hoping to entice buyers on the edge with sublime luxury, swaths of space, and a slight discount against its German rivals. Not so with he LS 500 F Sport. While Mercedes is the only automaker with a hot-rodded range-topping sedan, BMW and Lexus both choose to built halfway homes for those on the fence in between luxury and horsepower.
Like BMW, Lexus pulls it off beautifully by adding sporting style cues to the interior and exterior for the bragging rights, tuning the suspension and chassis for the S-curves, and blasting even more air into its six cylinders to net a grand total of 415 horsepower argued over by ten separate ratios in its automatic gearbox. Given that the F Sport moniker has typically designated packaging options for Lexus, it’s available across the LS 500 lineup, from the unhinged model to the hybrid LS 500h. While the LS 500 F Sport gets an impressive 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 churning out its impressive 415 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque, the LS 500h doesn’t get any boost over its mildly impressive 354 horsepower output.
However, it does receive a perforated grille pattern on the seating surfaces along with F Sport-exclusive front seats, scored aluminum trim elements, and a special F Sport steering wheel along with aluminum pedals like its gas-only sibling. On the outside, 7,100 individual surfaces coat the grille instead of the 5,000 typically placed on the standard LS in order to aid with engine cooling and help onlookers better acquaint themselves with the F-Sport brand. Complementing that are 20-inch alloy wheels and F Sport badges, but along with the go-fast badges and visual upgrades, buyers can finally expect the car to actually corner well and not act like clouds floating on the dead sea.
Thankfully Lexus used its luxury-oriented GA-L platform for the LS 500, which preserves the feeling of smoothness on long stretches of road but communicates the road to the driver. Playing the role of conductor is Lexus’ Dynamics Integrated Management system that controls traction control, stability, control, ABS, EOS, and other functions, though the real fun is to be had by exploiting every single one of the twin-turbo V6’s horsepower budget by rocketing it from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds. The LS 500h manages the same liftoff in 5.2 seconds, sans guilt about killing off a few animal species of course. Try not to have too much fun or the company that makes “the ultimate driving machine” may get a but envious.