Lexus revealed the next generation LS luxury sedan in Detroit earlier this year and the marque has now shown the LS 500h hybrid version at the Geneva Motor Show. Although Lexus' first class sedan has not been a top-seller (especially not in South Africa), the model proved pivotal in the establishment of the Japanese premium marque stateside. The newcomer is expected to reach the South African market in the first quarter of 2018.
If there was a car which flung a brand into the limelight, it is the Lexus LS. In 1990 the Lexus LS was launched in an effort to show the world that luxury, comfort and refinement was not just a German thing. The LS 400 was an immediate hit and hit benchmarks for comfort, powertrain performance and smoothness, quietness, build quality, attention to detail, and dependability. The car's launch coincided with the new Lexus customer service and aftersales program.
Now, the fifth generation of the Lexus LS sedan has been revealed and looks to continue where its predecessor left off. "Not only will the LS symbolize the Lexus brand, it will become the definitive new-generation luxury car embodying Japanese tradition and culture," said Toshio Asahi, chief engineer for the new LS. "As such, this global pinnacle must go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury car." The new Lexus LS is longer and lower than the outgoing model, and shares numerous design traits with the sporty LC 500 coupe. The similarities are not just skin deep as the GA-L platform is shared.
Lexus has worked on the chassis and suspension extensively to continue the excellent ride and handling. Chassis control technology has been used and this helps control longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. The new car benefits from lightweight construction and has shed over 100 kg.
The staple for the Lexus LS has traditionally been a big V8, but the downsizing trend has meant an all-new motor had to be developed. Powering the new Lexus LS is a 3.5-litre V6 motor featuring twin turbocharging. Outputs are rated at 310 kW and 600 Nm, and Lexus is claiming a 4.5 second sprint time to 100 kph. A 10-speed transmission (identical to that first seen in the LC 500) has been fitted. The benefits of a downsized engine are numerous, but aside from the additional shove, the reduced emissions and improvements in the economy department are welcome.
The LS 500h combines a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with two electric motors for a total power output of 264 kW. Acceleration from zero to 100 kph takes 5.4 seconds using a 10-speed automatic gearbox. The LS500h is fitted with a compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery that increases luggage capacity by 25 litres compared with the current LS 600h.
Cabin and Comfort
While the Lexus LS upset the apple cart when it came to establishing new levels of comfort and refinement, its real forte was cabin comfort. The new Lexus LS now features new seats which are heated, cooled and adjustable in 28-directions. The rear seats offer as much comfort, with the option of massage functionality thrown in. Air suspension with access function has been added, and the car will raise to help passengers get in.
It's the levels of quietness which really set the Lexus LS apart though, and the new version benefits from Active Noise Control, A Mark Levinson 3D surround sound system has been fitted for those who appreciate fine audio quality. An all-new graphic interface has been installed and is said to mimic smartphone operation. There's a 12.3-inch wide navigation screen, while an optional 24-inch heads-up display had been made available for the first time.
The Lexus LS will make its South African debut in Q1 of 2018 with local specification details published closer to the time.
Read a first drive report and video review of the Lexus LC 500
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