UCF30R (Mk3) LS 430
1 Nov 2000
With smoother, cleaner lines and a bug-eyed look, Lexus’ third-generation LS was a clean-sheet redesign – and at last the 1980s Mercedes S-class-like shape was lost. About 90 per cent was new.
The LS’ wheelbase grew 76mm to 2926mm in length although the overall packaging remained about the same.
Now the noticeably longer cabined body was more aerodynamic as well as space efficient while safety levels rose significantly.
As the name suggests, a 4.3-litre quad-cam V8 with variable-valve timing replaced the old 4.0. Power and torque outputs dropped and rose respectively, to 207kW and 417Nm, but driveability nevertheless improved.
It continued to drive the rear wheels via the existing five-speed automatic gearbox, while the LS’ dynamic envelope was at last stretched: more steering feel, better handling and greater body control were the upshot of revised suspension tuning.
Electronics increased markedly in this generation LS (Toyota claimed at the time it was its most technologically advanced car ever), and included salubrious options like massaging rear seats, satellite navigation (standard from late ’01), brake-forces assist and heated front seats.
But again it seemed the LS was out of step with the luxury car market, as BMW’s bold 7 Series and the exquisitely crafted Audi A8 soon comprehensively leapfrogged all opponents.
When it was new