Jun 012011

At the moment lots of people are looking to buy electric cars and eco cars, but one thing those people have in common is looking for the best price or the cheapest, most frugal car. What about the well-heeled people of the UK who want to lessen the effect their driving has on the environment? Well, that brings us to the Lexus LS600h. The ‘h’ is for hybrid, and as Toyota is the mega-company behind Lexus, it’s the same Hybrid Synergy Drive system you see in the Toyota Prius.

Regular Lexus-mega saloons cost around £40,000 but the LS600h top-of-the-range model starts at £86,000 – although depending on trim levels, you could pay £95,000 before adding your own flurry of options. It might not be within everyone’s grasp but for the price of a house in the UK, the 600h is one of the most clever, technologically-advanced cars out there.

There are seats that are ventilated and massage your back and legs, DVD players in the headrests, multi-zone climate control and it’s sound-deadened so much that even if you let the 5.0-litre V8 rip, it’s muted and understated, almost like being punted along by the wind. It has four-wheel drive, a CVT (continuously variable transmission) which adds yet more smoothness to the drive, a pliant road holding quality that only S-Class Mercedes can top and better still, it looks great.

Lexus LS600h - Hybrid Car

Lexus LS600h - Hybrid Car

The astonishing electric motor of the Lexus LS600h is whisper quiet, has whip-snap acceleration and has a seamless delivery when the V8 kicks in. There only problem being it handles like a barge. It wallows through corners and the ‘bongs’ of the electronic safety net traction control units and stability management keep you from disaster. It’s more of a car to cruise across Europe, waft from county to county and is a limo-driver’s dream.

Although it has an electric motor the lusty V8 pumps out 219g/km CO2, which is still in the high tax band and it will only deliver 30mpg. It is placed in insurance group 20, too, which makes it fairly costly to run, but if you can afford £100,000 for an eco car, then those costs are usually catered for.

It’s not the most practical of cars for its size. The added room is for the legs of the rear passengers and isn’t added to the boot space. There is still plenty of room for a few large bags but the electric motor is under the boot floor and does steal some of the space. The seating is for four adults and as the centre rear seat folds down to provide drinks holders, it’s not exactly child-friendly, although there are ISOFIX rear seat anchorage points. But surely an ugly child seat in a limo-esque saloon is defeating the point?

The V8 motor is found in the off-roader Toyotas and is a beauty. It has 383lb-ft of torque and 438bhp, which is more than enough to propel the car to 60mph in around 6 seconds. The added boost from the electric motor stops any slack in power delivery.

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