Malaysians love the Toyota Alphard. It's the staple people mover of the Klang Valley's upper class, even in the most affluent households you know are financially capable of maintaining a fleet of Merc S-Classes, with a dedicated chauffeur for each limo. The notion that bigger is still better still holds some water in this part of the globe. And the rich who subscribe to this school of thought now have an equally sizeable alternative to consider; one that fits in a little better in a garage of multi-million Ringgit supercars, minus the extra seats in the back for unwanted passengers.
Yes, we're talking about the Lexus LM. Toyota's luxury brand gave the Alphard its very own twist last year to capitalise on a relatively untapped ultra high-end MPV market, and the order books are finally open in Malaysia. The first thing you need to know before placing your order at any of the six authorised Lexus Centres nationwide is its price, and it's a big one. The sole LM350 variant slated for our market will set you back a whopping RM1,148,000. That's just over two and a half times the cost of a brand new Toyota Alphard on which it is based, and over RM130k more than the V8-powered Lexus LS500. And the LM350 doesn't even give you more seats for the money.
In the true spirit of luxury, Lexus Malaysia has specced the LM350 with only four seats, meaning you get a pair of 'Adaptipedic' lounge seats in the rear with an ottoman massage function and their own climate controls. Having thoroughly enjoyed the massage seats in the LS, we believe those who fortunate enough to be seated in the back of this pricey MPV are in for a treat. Passengers even get to enjoy a 26-inch full HD display panel and a 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system for "opera house clarity". So it's really just a decked out entertainment lounge on wheels.
The numbers in the LM350's label indicates that it's powered by the same 3.5-litre V6 engine as its Toyota twin. This mill develops a decent enough 296hp and 361Nm of torque, with the output sent to the front wheels via a direct-shift eight-speed automatic gearbox. As per the standard for all new Lexus models, the LM350 comes fully equipped with the Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) suite of semi-autonomous driver aids such as dynamic radar cruise control, lane tracing assist and adaptive high beam system. It's a useful extra layer of safety on days when your driver isn't at his alert best.
With the official launch of the Lexus LM350 scheduled for May 2021, after which a month's wait is needed for the first owners to receive their keys, Lexus Malaysia encourages keen buyers to place their bookings now to secure their ultra-luxurious MPV, which can only be had in either black or white - not that we've seen any red or yellow Alphards around. Surely a car (or van) this expensive shouldn't warrant an undignified rush to beat the queue... right?