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A Kind Of Hush All Over The World

Jan 31, 2008
Do you remember that Monty Python sketch, Waking The Neighbours? Cast members stood outside in the street, slamming car doors in a bid to wake up their neighbours and win points.

It was a good thing they didn't use the latest Lexus LS460, otherwise no-one would have laughed.

Because the Lexus actually does the job for you. You just push the door to, without actually slamming it, and the wizard of electronics takes over, gently and soundlessly closing it.

It was my favourite party trick when showing folks around the test car. My other one was the auto-opening and closing boot. Release it and the boot lid rises majestically on gas rams; press a button on the lid and it eerily lowers itself and closes with a barely-audible click.

Inside, it was also fun to play with Lexus's amazing lift-and-tilt box between the two front seats, which sees the elegant lid automatically glide backwards and then after a light human touch, silently roll forward and shut itself.

Lexus also gives you some teasing options from which to choose - comfort or performance settings on the auto gearbox and whether to use the automatic parking brake manually (a light touch release setting on the dash) or just let the car decide for itself and take over the duty.

And you don't even need to turn your head to reverse the car if you don't want all that neck craning. Just observe the info panel in front of you which morphs into a TV screen when you're in reverse gear and gives you a perfect picture of what's behind.

I haven't even mentioned the drop-down DVD screen to entertain rear passengers; emergency steering assist; adaptive cruise control; and systems for advanced obstacle detection, driver monitoring, lane-keep assist and pre-crash - many of the features world firsts.

But then would you expect anything less from the car considered by many to be the finest luxury saloon in the world?

Now, having conquered America and much of the globe, the latest incarnation of the formidable Lexus LS460 has arrived to raise the bar just that much higher beyond their rivals' reach.

What sells the Lexus to me is that the LS460 looks a much more contemporary car. Early models were a bit clumsy and clunky looking (even though they ran trouble-free for ever) but this model is elegant, long, sleek and beautifully proportioned form all angles.

It also isn't a car that technophobes need to fear. If I can work it all, anyone can and Lexus has set everything up so that the Lexus's onboard computers constantly monitor everything and work behind the scenes while the owner just gets on with the job of driving.

And what a pleasure that is. The hugely long classic saloon, which boasts acres of rear legroom, starts up so quietly that the all-new 4.6-litre V8 engine can scarcely be heard.

And it's deceptively quick - sleek and fast-running with urgent response but never ruffled or coarse, however hard it's pushed. Zero to 62mph in a red-hot 5.7 seconds and 50mph-75mph in 4.7 seconds tell their own story.

The world's first eight-speed auto transmission is incredibly slick, with seamless gearchanges that slide in unobtrusively and there's also the option of more hands-on input if you choose the sequential option that's included.

With fingertip steering control that's light but highly accurate, subtle brakes which can be judged to the last millimetre when stopping and a magic carpet ride that makes the car feel like it's riding on a cushion of air, this is motoring at its absolute pinnacle.

It may cost from 57,090 but your neighbours will love you to bits.



* All-new fourth generation of Lexus's flagship model.

* Eight world firsts in safety, driver assistance and powertrain technology.

* All-new 4.6-litre V8 engine with Dual VVT-i and VVT-iE.

* Maximum power 375bhp at 6,400rpm.

* Excellent balance of performance, fuel economy and emissions.

* World's first eight-speed transmission.

* Available in three grades - LS460, 460 SE and 460 SE-L.

* DVD sat nav with dynamic route guidance, Bluetooth connectivity, parking assist monitor, leather upholstery, heated and air conditioned front seats and 10-speaker sound system standard on all models.

* New 19-speaker Mark Levinson premium hi-fi with six-disc DVD autochanger standard on LS 460 SE and SE-L models.
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