Got The Car? Get The Yacht

Captain, set sail for Lucrative Waters.

All images : (c)

Once Toyota had fixed their new sales horizon firmly upon the United States, there were bound to be some noses put out of joint. More tellingly, there were plenty of takers. Thirty years ago, the LS400 won over the hearts of wealthy Americans along with those seeking a more quality feel to what was otherwise being offered. The recipe was surprisingly simple. High-end engineering, longevity and product quality, be nice to customers at service or repair time. Ford and GM must have been on vacation.

Gaining that foothold in a predominantly stateside motoring landscape, with the Europeans snapping at the ankles, Lexus were refreshingly bold. Sales rattled up, announcing a sea change to the perceived automotive aristocracy. And that pitch continues today with ever more resonance: the vehicles have changed but not the philosophy. 

Well, not quite, because while Lexus see themselves as purveyors of quality, luxurious transport these days, they no longer confine themselves to the tarmac roads. Anyone with the means can park their delightful Garnet Red LS, with added kiriko glass embellishments, at the golf course, gun club or shopping mall. But surely better to park this land barge by the harbour wall and hop aboard your Lexus yacht?

New LS parked in front of the yacht.

Your eyes do not deceive, the posh side of Toyota had wet their first Plimsol line, placed a copy of Boat International by the helm and raised the anchor, course set for those lucrative waters but three years ago.

The Sport Yacht Concept was dreamt up by Lexus Design, engineered by Toyota Marine Division with help from respected boat builders, Marquis-Larson, based in Pulaski, Wisconsin. At 42 feet long, with hand laid carbon fibre, vacuum-infused no less, with a coating of two-part polyurethane resin. But the interesting bit are the engines. Note the plural; two V8 5 litre mills, as found in the LC500 which, in marine trim pump out 885 horsepower. That shifts this tub to 49mph. It can also seat eight in luxury with full multimedia and hand-crafted everything. Neat. Even won an award at the International Japanese Boat Show in early 2018 and sparked an interest in bigger, more opulent cruising style yachts as opposed to sprinters.

The Sports Yacht

Why, look there able seaman Hanks. Gently manoeuvring in to harbour is the LY 650 Luxury Yacht. With a base price of $3.74M (floating up to the full works at $4.85M – form that queue…) It’s based on the Sport Yacht and then turned up, well, higher. Clear it is not what your extra eight hundred thousand adorns your yacht with; a Midas touch perhaps? 65 metres long, using Lexus defined L-finesse, a design language based on Takumi, it would be easy for our American friends to slide out of that garnet LS and on to the deck of this yacht, head out to the island hideaway and contemplate his navel. Well, why wouldn’t you? 

Powered this time not by Lexus’ own but using that other occasional car builder-cum Marine experts, Volvo Penta IPS engines, resulting in a more RX-Yacht than LC-schooner, the LY 650 maintains swift, ocean going speeds but with a larger turning circle. Well, you gotta compromise something, even at this level. Not really, for those engines can be had in three states on trim. Will the 1050 hp do, sir? What about an upgrade to the 1200 or the top 1350hp to get that forty tonne tub up to nigh on forty knots? Marine gas prices? Pah! 

A significant six metre wide beam at the yachts aft section affords plenty of wriggle room. Car inspired details include a stainless steel chafing plate on the bow along with both window frames and air inlets with the Lexus “L” shape. Continuing with a Mark Levinson sound system on the bridge and the three berth cabins, air conditioning, more kiriko glass, real wood trim and even room for staff. Well, you wouldn’t want to pour your own raki now? And who would do the cleanup job when the ocean invariably turns choppy?

President Akio Toyoda states the yacht to be “the challenge Lexus has taken on to symbolise our application to become a true luxury brand, venturing beyond the automobile. As a mobility company we are pursuing new possibilities that include the ocean.” 

Which is all fine and dandy but smacks rather like all those other brands wanting to diversify into other luxury and seemingly lucrative (shipping) lanes. When Lexus first appeared and the American businessman was lured into the Japanese web of engineering excellence, their cars stood out for reasons discussed in-depth on this website in earlier episodes.

You can’t blame Lexus for wanting to go fishing (sorry) in this ultra-high end market but for me it doesn’t quite sit right. Personally admiring the LC500 is one thing. Swanning about on the waters off Miami, Monte-Carlo or Morecombe is quite another. In fact, this yacht could be hailed as being almost Docker-like

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

8 thoughts on “Got The Car? Get The Yacht”

  1. Riva do this stuff much better.
    And Lexus have missed a trick by not allowing you to drive the car straight into the back of the yacht.

    1. Good morning Andrew. I’m afraid I know nothing about yachts, other than understanding that they cost a fortune to maintain, but your interesting piece made me realise that the current Lexus LS had completely passed me by:

      Oh dear, what has become of it? Eóin’s 2017 critique of the current model, to which you have kindly provided a link, is a good read. The LS has eschewed any attempt at elegant formality in favour of an XXL Camry aesthetic. That DLO is just awful. Doesn’t Lexus realise that (unless it’s a Jaguar) luxury saloons should have a broad, solid C-pillar so that the plutocrat sitting in the rear should be spared the curious stares of the hoi-polloi?

      Lexus has, to its credit, gone to a great deal of effort to provide flush glazing, but it’s undone by the fussiness of rear quarter arrangement and unsatisfactory fillet in the front door that catches the eye and jars. The uncertain upward curvature of the waistline is at odds with every other line. Those upward slashes in the lower door panels are, I suppose, intended to add dynamism, but just look odd and contrived.

      The previous generation LS was, I think, a much calmer and more assured design:

  2. I think we’ll find though that the LY650 is a mere 65 feet long rather than a rather over the top 65m!

    1. Riva has done boats of many sizes, although its site makes them hard to find.

  3. I agree with Daniel. This LS is all over the place. It’s the familiar problem: they get it right first time, so any facelift is worse than the original.
    And it’s not the nostalgia over advancing years that prompts my opinion: just look at it.

    1. What I will say, is that having seen one in the metal, and in natural light, it looks a good deal more cohesive than it does in photographs. It’s a bit like Jaguar’s outgoing XJ, insofar as it does not photograph at all well. Nevertheless, one would never describe it as pretty. But what in this class is? What we can say is that unlike its forebears, it now stands out. After all, even BMW’s massive gob has nothing on Big ‘Lex.

  4. Old Akio had to do something. Lexus LS sales fell off a cliff some years ago and they can’t shift the new ones for love nor money. So boats it is. Or maybe a line of luxury hot-air balloons will help – that’s a mobility “solution” too.

    Lexus LS sales in the US fell from 9,000 odd in 2018 to 5000 in 2019. In Canada only 69 got sold in 2019. Maximum US LS sales were 35,000 way back in 2007, but 5 or 6 thousand is all they’ve sold since 2015. Highly UNpopular. I haven’t seen one in years, so the Germans have them completely on the run. Actually, it’s Tesla who’ve got the whole lot of them trembling in their boots when it comes to sedan sales.

    Good thing your average pleb buys SUVs. The new Tesla SUV looks like an overturned bathtub of yore and painfully incapable of off-roading through dense shrubbery, let alone goat tracks in the Atlas Mountains.

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