You’ll see dozens of these every single day and that’s because the LS 400 has become the darling of the UAE — and for good reason.
With a buttery smooth and whisper-quiet ride, the Lexus takes you back to an era of gentlemanly motoring. You don’t get epic handling (but it doesn’t do too badly) and it won’t ever be considered as one of the best driver’s cars — but when it comes to luxury and comfort, it knocks it out of the park.
In 1983, the then Toyota chairman, Eiji Toyoda, started a project called F1 (Flagship No. 1 vehicle), which was to produce a world-class luxury saloon for the international market. It would be an entirely new vehicle and not use any parts from the existing Toyota parts bin. Five years later and at a cost of $1b (Dh3.67b), the LS was launched. Designed to compete against the S-Class, 7 Series and other prestige models, it significantly undercut its rivals in price, which helped it make a massive impact in the luxury-saloon segment.
It had an all-new 250bhp 4.0-litre V8 mated to a refreshed four-speed automatic and a chassis with an independent, double-wishbone suspension (you could opt for an air suspension for an extra-cushy ride) and everything else in between. The cabin was exceptionally quiet, the fit and finish exemplary and the quality of materials used were top notch. It wasn’t just a very smooth-riding, very well-equipped saloon — it could go, too. It had a top speed of 250kph and could hit 100kph from rest in 8.3 seconds, which was faster than the BMW and Mercedes at the time.
The second-generation didn’t look much different to the previous one but in fact, 92 per cent of its parts were new. It became even roomier inside without having its exterior dimensions increased. Instead, its wheelbase was lengthened, and the front and rear windows were moved outwards. Somehow, the cabin became even quieter and better qualified to provide luxury travel. It packed passive safety features such as pyrotechnic seat-belt pretensioners and the car shed 100kg in weight. The revised body was more aerodynamic and the ride as silky smooth as ever. With capable road manners to complement a 10bhp bump in performance, it isn’t a surprise that we still see so many of these on our roads, nor that they’re still in such demand.
Want one of these understated yet truly luxurious cars? All you need is around Dh20,000. Yep, a bargain indeed.