UCF10R (Mk1) LS 400
1 May 1990
TOYOTA took on the established luxury car marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW with its Lexus LS 400, a conservatively styled three-box four-door sedan.
But it wasn’t just the 1980s Mercedes S-class-like styling, startling build quality, amazing lack of noise, vibration and harshness, impressive value for money and utter reliability.
Lexus quickly became the biggest luxury brand in some countries – like America – through diligent customer service. This became the Lexus’ greatest achievement.
Meanwhile the LS 400 itself was conservative but still very capable, if a lot softer in the dynamic department than the big BMWs and Benzes.
A 190kW/360Nm 4.0-litre quad-cam V8 drove the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox.
And for the price of a loaded mid-sized German sedan, the full-sized LS included a driver’s front airbag (the passenger’s side didn’t arrive until mid-’93), anti-lock brakes, cruise control, leather upholstery, climate control air-conditioning and powered front seats, among other luxury fittings.
Around 1500 were sold in Australia during the Mk1 Series 1 LS’ reign, firmly establishing the brand.