Japanese Tea Party

by Petrol Mum
Lexus LS500h Sports Luxury at Abercrombie House

Luxury can be measured by both tangible possessions and non-tangible elements like time and human connections. Likewise, the pleasure of the Lexus LS500h Sports Luxury is not just what is right in front of you, but what’s happening even without you knowing it. In Japan there is a word for this and it’s called ‘Omotenashi’.

Omotenashi is part of the Japanese tea making ceremony and relates to the wholeheartedness of hospitality shown towards guests by the host and the anticipation of their guests’ needs. The Lexus LS500h anticipates your needs from the moment you approach it thanks to smart keyless entry. When you sit down the front seat belt buckle extends up to make the belt easier to clip in and all of the buckles have a little light in them so that you can see where there are.

The interior design cues in the LS500h are interesting to say the least. The metal looking trim on the doors reminded of when I used to press out Easter egg wrappers and stick them onto paper as a child. This is combined with metallic cloth on the doors and wood grain on the centre console, which doesn’t show finger-marks. I like the stitched leather with metal striates across the dash and the final touch of elegance is the analogue Lexus clock on the dash.

You feel like you are wafting along in the LS500h when driving, the cabin is quiet and very little road noise penetrates in when you are driving on smooth roads with a little more noise on rougher roads. There are thick carpet mats in the front and rear that would help deaden the noise, but they are also lovely to set your tired feet down on. There is even a thinc mat over the transmission tunnel between the two rear seats. The problem with a quiet cabin is other noises become more noticeable and the one that annoyed me somewhat in the Lexus was the air blowing out of the vents.

To help you remain in a relaxed state while driving all four seats have heating and cooling, the latter does not work well enough, and numerous massage function options. Rear seat passengers can select from seven different massage types with intensity control and the option of a spot heater that acts a bit like a hot rock massage function. Front seat passengers get just five massage options and no hot rock option.

The front seats have power adjustment in almost every direction possible and three memory positions to save your perfect setting once you have found it. The LS500h I drove had over 13,000km on the odometer and the Semi Aniline Leather Accented seat trim still looked brand new and smelled nice. Something that Lexus vehicles are renowned for is the lack of rattles in the cabin and this was exactly the case in my LS500h.

If you happen to be sitting on the passenger side in the rear of the LS500h and there is no one in the front passenger seat you have the option to fully recline the seat and an ottoman that extends out as well. The front seat moves fully forward to enable this to happen all at the push of the button. The rear seats have power adjustment for the headrest, recline, shoulder bolster, seat cushion height at the front and 4-way lumbar support with two memory positions. When I sat in the back seat, I found that the headroom was limited and taller individuals may find it to be a bit tight.   

The last time I drove a LS500h I had one car seat to fit and this time both my children were very happy that they could fully experience the rear seat luxury. The Lexus has two ISOFIX/three rear tether child seat restraint points, but in reality, only enough width for two car seats.

The seat controls, along with the individual digital climate controls, are all adjusted via the central touchscreen at the front of the arm rest when the centre seat is folded down. In addition to the central rear air vents there are also vents in the B-pillar and in the roof above the rear doors. You can also raise and lower the window blinds that cover each of the three side windows and the rear window. The rear window blind automatically lowers when you engage reverse.

My children also enjoyed the built in rear screens and a DVD/Blu-ray player because I am a no screens in the car mum. The other media sources for rear passengers include AM/FM radio, DAB, AUX, rear SD card, rear HDMI, and rear Miracast. The rear USB-A ports are located under the central arm rest, which is felt lined and suitable to store about five DVDs an. The two headphone sockets are also located here and have individual volume control. Something that can also be a bit annoying if your children want to bug you is they have the ability to change the audio source and volume of the media at the front of the LS500h as well.  

Refreshments can be kept cool using the cool box that is located between the two rear seats and if adults happen to be sitting back there you can store two piccolo bottles of wine in the cool box. The downside is it only cools when the vehicle is on and the temperature is controlled by the rear passenger’s climate temp. The best temp I could get the cool box down to was about nine degrees Celsius. At the front of the central arm rest there are two drink/cup/champagne glass holders and the rear door cubbies are not suitable for drink bottles and neither are the front door cubbies.

The infotainment system in the LS500h has slightly older technology and the system can either be navigated using the touch screen or the touch pad on the centre console. The voice control button is designated by a masculine looking silhouette on the steering wheel and worked well for me to change the radio station, make a phone call and set a destination on the sat nav.

The LS500h does have wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and under the front arm rest, which can be flipped up from either side, there are two USB-A ports, one 12V outlet and one AUX. The media options include AM/FM radio, DAB, USB, Bluetooth and even a CD player still.

We drove to Bathurst and back in the LS500h and it was very comfortable to live with on the open road for a longer drive. The LS500h is powered by a 3.5-litre, V6 engine with a Multi Stage Hybrid System controlled by the 10-speed shift transmission to optimise the driving performance. There are five Drive Modes to select from using the rotary stalk located adjacent to the driver’s dash, which still think looks like a design afterthought to me, and these are Comfort, Normal, Eco, Sport and Sport+.

There is a bit of lag when you put your foot down, but when the engine picks up the LS500h does move rapidly. Even so this is not a performance sedan and I did not feel the need to venture to Sport or Sport+ or use the wheel-mounted paddle shifters while driving the LS500h. The official combined consumption for this hybrid is 6.6L/100km and I used 11.5L/100km for my week of road tripping in LS500h.

The boot is large and deep with a design that will accommodate a golf bag, should you so require. There was plenty of space for our luggage and would easily cope with a pram and the weekly shop. The boot lid has gesture open and close or you can use the button under the boot lid, on the key fob (open only) or the button in the cabin. The rear seats can not be folded down to create extra space and there is no spare tyre because the LS500h is fitted with run flat tyres.

Active safety features available on all Lexus LS models includes the Pre-Collision Safety System with Pedestrian Detection, Active Steering Assist and Intersection Turning Assist, All-speed Radar Active Cruise Control, Front Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Trace Assist with Curve Speed Reduction and Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The Lexus LS range does not have an ANCAP safety rating.

The Lexus LS500h Sport Luxury has 12 airbags including additional Rear Seat Cushion Airbags. For parking convenience you get a 360o view reversing camera combined with a standard rear view camera with front and rear parking sensors. You also get the Adaptive High-beam System, automatic dusk-sensing headlights and rain-sensing wipers.

All new Lexus vehicles come with a 5 Year/Unlimited Kilometre warranty. You also have access to the Lexus Encore Platinum program for three years and 10 years access to the Lexus DriveCare Program when you purchase a LS model, just another way the LS500h looks after you in a wholistic manner. The service interval for the LS500h is every 12 months or 15,000km, whichever occurs first, and under Lexus Capped Price Servicing the first three services will cost $595 each.

Experiencing the Lexus LS500h is an opulent event in every sense of the word for you as the driver and your passengers alike, with Omotenashi ever present. The Lexus LS500h Sports Luxury is priced at $201,040 excluding on-road costs. Visit your preferred Lexus dealer to experience this luxury sedan for yourself.

Quiet cabinVentilated seats do not cool adequately
The smooth rideNoisy air vents
Massage seatsChildren changing my radio station

 Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.

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