In 1989 the world was introduced to Toyota's naked ambition, the Lexus LS 400 luxury saloon. It was the result of six years of work by 1,400 engineers, 60 designers and 2,300 technicians, and was Toyota's stake in the luxury car-making ground. It drove like wallpaper on wheels, but the LS 400 was reliable to a fault, refined beyond belief and keenly priced in the US where it was popular, although it didn't do so well in Europe and it has taken years for us to accept Lexus as a viable luxury car maker.
Not that you could accuse Toyota of not putting in the hard yards on its luxury marque. Take this new, fifth-generation LS, the first to be offered without a super-smooth V8 engine. Tick the £7,600 option for Kiriko glass and Kyoto-style hand-pleated cloth and you will witness door-trim science elevated to previously unheard-of levels.
Art wood, colour-matched by craftsmen and women tested four...
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