September 06, 2005 By Kevin C. Limjoco

LEXUS LS 430

Some believe that the word Lexus means ‘law’, others proclaim that it is rooted or derived somehow from the word ‘luxury’ and ‘elegance’. Lexus must not be confused with the word Luxor which is a city in southern Egypt along the Nile, also known as the greatest open air museum in the world enjoyed by over 4,000 years of tourism (it’s also the name of a theme hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada). Yes it is confirmed, the Lexus brand is officially here and should begin sales by the planned third quarter of the next year. All good thing to those who wait, heck we’ve waited for 16 years what’s a few more months?

For years in the US the Lexus brand had been synonymous with silent running and extremely superior build quality, many time embarrassing more expensive European luxury brands. So much so that the consumers demanded Lexus excellence in all other cars. You had guys walking out of US dealerships fuming why their favorite brand fell short of the build quality of a Lexus. Many time the heart prevailed and these same guys still bought their preferred brand and accepted its weaknesses for better looks, distinction or outright performance. The balance of nature was restored. Intellectuals on one spectrum and gangsters on the opposite purchased Lexus. Enthusiast held their ground and bought Euro. Everybody else fell through the cracks. Still, the facts remain up to the moment  I turned the key to the ignition of our black brand new 2005 LS 430 test unit, Lexus build quality is absolutely impeccable. For one, the engine is so quite and so isolated from the cabin that I had to check a couple of times by blipping the throttle to make sure that the engine is running.

Drivers who want a smooth, carefree luxury car should look no further than the Lexus LS 430. It whisks occupants along in supreme comfort, allowing the driver to concentrate on other, more pressing matters than the automobile. Its ride is silky smooth yet it handles quite well, with smooth, effortless steering and functional grip. It’s also pretty powerful, with a strong doch 32 valve 4.3 liter 290bhp V8 with VVT-I and a silky smooth six-speed automatic. And it features the latest in active safety technology as well.

The LS430 is a big car, don’t fool yourself, even if I caught myself thinking that it resembled simply a grown up Toyota Camry. Is that a bad thing? Actually no. I remember the day when the Toyota Crown was the most seen and driven-in luxury car on the Philippine public roads. It was the default choice for 5-star hotel cars too. Toyota build quality is unanimously unquestioned; heck one of our office cars, under James Deakin’s commission, is a 1990 Toyota Corolla with over 260,000 kilometers on the odometer. And we all know that the current Camry is actually an outstanding car loaded with a long list of standard equipment, so a larger more powerful big brother would definitely be something to get exited about specially for passengers and captains of industry.

Conservative Toyota has done their bit once again though with the way ta car look, more powerful big brother would definitely be something to get excited about especially for passenger and captains of industry.

Conservative Toyota has done their bit once again though with the way the car looks, this is not a car for the youth not that they could afford it in the first place unless the guy was a successful US hip-hop star. So the LS 430 won’t break any design molds nor make new ones but it does look its best thus far though which is fine. I will present a shocking fact though: the LS 430 may look perhaps to sober for some but it has an effective drag coefficient of 0.25! Yes you read right, that is a shocking number for there is absolutely no full production car to my knowledge that can best that number while maintaining its profound road eating abilities with 5 people on board with luggage! Not even super cars like the Zonda or the Mclaren F1 have such wind slicing aerodynamics. This is yet another reason why the Lexus LS430 is so quite on the road. The efficient aerodynamics contributes to exceptionally low wind noise and improved fuel economy. The slick exterior form is further enhanced by the remarkable fit of the body panels. Although Lexus has long been recognized for superior fit and finish, the quality achieved by the LS 430 reaches a new dimension. Engineers used a super computer to digitize all body surfaces, and then worked out new fit tolerance 1o times more precise than on the previous models.

Ironically it’s what’s inside that really count for the Lexus buyer. The interior cabin is simple but beautiful with rich wood accents and buttery soft tan leather trim, seats so comfortable that you never think about them, and controls that are a paragon of ergonomic excellence. The overall opulent workmanship is exquisite and difficult to flaw. Every convenience feature imaginable is provided; even seat belt height can be adjusted with a tough of a button. The 11 –speaker 240 watt Mark Levinson audio system is the closest I’ve heard to the quality of a premium living room high power system, absolutely the best I’ve heard from a car, this system tops everything to date. Very accurate sound reproduction, its not just the strength of the bass or the perfectly toned treble and mid-range, it’s just completely undistorted, full and enveloping. The clarity is so precise that I could imagine the sound of the moisture build up within Whitney Houston’s throat ( her greatest hits album was in the in-dash 6 CD changer, no doubt Deakin left it in there to piss me off!).

A Lexus is about function first then form follows. Quality, durability and reliability are Lexus hallmarks.  For the 10th consecutive year, Lexus was the highest-ranking brand in a J.D. Power and Associates dependability study; based on surveys of owners, the study name LS 430 the most problem- free car in its class after three years of ownership. Model year 2004 brought major changes to the LS 430: revised styling, suspension refinements, safety improvements, and mind-boggling technology. A new six speed automatic replaced the previous five-speed for improved acceleration performance without sacrificing fuel economy.

There’s a tire-pressure monitor, HID projector headlights that swivel for vision around corners, and Dynamic Laser Cruise Control that maintains a set following distance to the car ahead, Intuitive Parking Assist, climate-controlled front and rear seats with fans that circulate heated or chilled air moonroof, powered window blinds, headlamp washers, a rear seat adjuster with memory, rear climate controlled seats with a massage feature, and a rear air conditioner with optical deodorizer. With the options Bluethoot and SmartAccess, you can unlock the doors, start the car, drive off, and make hand-free phone calls without even pulling your key or your cell phone out of your pocket.

All the car’s functions are intuitive and easy to operate. Your all the cars functions is intuitive and easy to operate.

Your passengers should have no trouble finding and adjusting the temperature for their side of the cabin too with redundant controls in the rear. There is the ability for the rear passenger to independently adjust the front passenger seat to either get better frontal visibility or simply increase rear leg room with a flick of another toggle as well. The climate control is so sophisticated, that temperature sensors around the cabin detect any hot spots where the sun is baring down and directs cool air specifically to compensate for it. The system also takes voice commands. Say, ’69 degrees’, and it’ll adjust the climate control accordingly.

The Lexus LS 430 is an attractive luxury car that makes a substantial, upscale statement. It isn’t a head turner, though, and tends to blend in but their buyers like that ambiguity.

Dual tailpipes protrude from the lower edge of the bumper project a look of power and performance, a subtle tale-tell that the car has more to offer than what meets the eye. Lexus says the LS 430 can accelerate form 0 to 100 km/h in 64 seconds, a significant boast that I can substantiate bursting past several cars on very steep inclines, in anti – climactic silence and a muted burble from the willing V8. The performance improvement is almost entirely a result of the new six-speed automatic. First gear is lower, and second, third, and fourth gears are closer together, all of which makes for a quicker launch and quicker acceleration. Yet the LS 430 still an EPA- estimated 18/25 mpg City / Highway a benefit of the transmission’s  long-legged fifth and sixth gears. The driver can manually control shifting, though we found it usually best to put it in ‘Drive’.

Engine and transmission are designed to favor smoothness over performance, however, so they do not offer the crispness of a BMW powertrain. The engine’s electronic drive-by- wire system helps smooth acceleration from a standing start by very slightly delaying throttle opening when the driver steps on the acceleration pedal, and the transmission favors smoothness over aggressive shifting speed. The effect is still entertaining but it’s clear that the car is meant for long distance cruising and city shuffling rather than track sessions and wanton afternoon drives. The brakes are phenomenally responsive and easy to modulate. That plus the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) helps the driver maintain control under adverse conditions by correcting loss of lateral traction during cornering. VSC integrates traction control to help limit rear wheel spin on slippery road surfaces as well. The driving experience is unsurprisingly much like the passenger’s unengaging and purely functional. If you want a swift, extremely comfortable ride with the environment of your living room without any drama, the Lexus LS 430 is the car for you, it’s the butler you’ve always wanted on your daily jaunts to and from work and to the golf course.

It’s not that the Lexus doesn’t handle well, it actually does even if the tires look a little spindly for such a whale, It’s just that you don’t feel you are an active participant in the whole exercise. I honestly can’t imagine a buyer getting a car to drive himself everyday anyhow, this is definitely a chauffeur-driven luxury car. Thankfully the sophisticated electronic and mechanical wizardry is meant to make controlling the car completely effortless so even the most mentally challenged chauffeur can drive the car as easy as driving the vastly more modest Toyota Camry.

The Lexus LS 430 excels as a luxury sedan with a cabin that’s quiet, comfortable, and luxurious. It is a meticulously crafted car that offers every luxury amenity imaginable. Its construction quality is among the very best in the industry. Everything about its operation is  smooth. Its ride is silky thanks to the adaptive variable air suspension that levels off-camber roads while soaking up even the worst potholes, its steering is smooth and precise, and its monster brakes allow easy modulation for ultra smooth deceleration. If you want a drama-free and premium luxury sedan that simply does what it’s told, look no further.

 

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