Why the LM 350 is the ‘best’ Lexus on sale

Massive spindle grille looks right at home on the LM which gets its own signature ‘swish’ on the window line.

Unlike its German rivals, Lexus does not assemble cars in Malaysia and thus bears the full brunt of duties imposed on fully imported vehicles (though import duties could be exempted through the Japan Malaysia free trade agreement, subject to conditions), making it challenging for Lexus to compete in key segments where locally assembled volume models such as the BMW 3-Series, 5-Series, Mercedes-Benz GLC and S-Class dominate.

Expect to see one of these showing up at a political function soon.

Last year, Lexus sold a total of 819 cars in Malaysia, the year before that it managed 918 units –approximately 10% of what premium leaders BMW and Mercedes-Benz chalk up each year. Suffice to say, profit margin is key to Lexus.

The work space for the chauffeur and bodyguard; the LM 350 is powered by a 296hp/361Nm 3.5-litre V6 mated to an 8-speed auto.

If you scroll through the Lexus line-up (it’s not that long), every model offered is covered by the competition from Europe; even the svelte LC coupe has the Mercedes S-Class coupe and BMW 8-Series to contend with, while the land-crushing seven-seat LX SUV has the Mercedes-Benz GLS and BMW X7 for company, not to mention the Land Rover Discovery.

Lexus premiered the LM at the 2019 Shanghai motor show, and it has finally made its way here.

When Lexus premiered the LM at the 2019 Shanghai motor show, the concept of repackaging an already luxurious Toyota MPV into a Lexus made a lot of sense, and Japanese premium automaker promised that the Alphard-based MPV would be introduced in China and selected Asian markets where they are appreciated. Well, the LM 350 has arrived and it now has the entire segment to itself. Mind you, at RM1.15 million a pop, it’s also potentially a lucrative business endeavour.

Passenger lounge is socially distanced courtesy of a partition which forms part of the body structure of the LM 350.

Of course, one could argue that no amount of fridges, electrochromic glass and massaging functions can justify the million-ringgit asking price, but then again, no small amount of engineering would have been sunk into it either, not just in re-configuring the rear cabin layout to just two lounge seats and the addition of a London cab-style partition, but to also ensure that the LM 350 wouldn’t fold into an origami when impacting something its size. So fresh investments would have been needed to ensure that the LM 350 met crash safety requirements of different markets, including the UNECE vehicle regulations which Malaysia adheres to.

VIP chairs come with ottoman and seven massaging functions, for a much-needed break after greeting peasants…sorry, constituents.

While there is a less costly seven-seat version of the LM in other markets, Lexus Malaysia has confidently chosen to position the LM at the sharp end of luxury with the more ostentatious four-seater variant because let’s face it, there is nothing else quite like the LM, save for the Toyota Alphard and Vellfire.

The Lexus LM sets a new standard for high end MPVs in Malaysia.

In a market where high end MPVs are the preferred daily conveyance of self-serving politicians, entitled celebrities and triad bosses on the run (hard to tell one from the other really), the Lexus LM is a new symbol of power and fame, that it has an incredible million-ringgit price tag only serves to secure its exclusivity.

Lexus LM 350
: RM1,148,000  Engine: 3.5-litre V6, FWD  Output: 296hp and 361Nm  Transmission: 8-speed automatic  Performance: 0-100km/h in 8.3 seconds; top speed 180km/h  Wheels/tyres: 235/50 R18  Safety: 7 airbags, Lexus Safety System Plus  Warranty: 5-year/unlimited mileage