By David Colman
For: Ultra Luxe and Comfy Dreamboat
Against: Ridiculous VDIM limits
For 2012, Lexus has introduced a special Sports Package for its flagship sedan, the LS460. The $6,185 Sport Package contains such worthy performance items as Brembo brakes, 19 inch forged alloy rims with 245/45R19 Dunlop Sport Maxx 101 tires, and Sports-Tuned Suspension. In addition, sports oriented front seats feature more lateral support than those of any prior LS. The upgrades in this option group extend to the tasteful matte burl ash wood trim which adorns the center console, stick shift and door panels. Special grill and exterior trim, plus a sport steering wheel fitted with paddle shifts, complete the package. While these features do not instantly convert the LS 460 into an AMG Benz or M spec BMW, they do go a long way to making this Lexus much more fun to drive. But to extract the performance this car is capable of providing, you must first learn the secret handshake that will let you open Pandora’s box.
The Owner’s Manual for this car is 836 pages long. About half way through it (page 306), you’ll find out that Lexus prefers that you operate your LS with the full assistance of VDIM, or Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management which “provides integrated control of the ABS, brake assist, TRAC (Traction Control), VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), hill-start assist control, and EPS (Electric Power Steering),” because VDIM “Maintains vehicle stability when swerving on slippery road surfaces by controlling the brakes and engine output, and steering assist.” In fact, what it does is inhibit your control of the LS460 on any road surface, not just slippery ones, by intervening consistently to slow the vehicle from what it judges to be dangerous speeds. On a curvy road, you’ll find yourself in a constant battle with VDIM for control of the LS, with warning beeps supplied to alert you to its intervention. VDIM-induced loss of engine power and unexpected braking are incompatible with brisk back road motoring.