Set to go on sale in late-2017, Lexus is taking its flagship limousine on a very different path. Far from being the cozy chauffeur driven limousine that all previous generations of Lexus LS were known for, the key highlights for the all-new LS read almost as if they came from some GTI hot hatch.
Curiously, there press materials don’t contain any pictures of the rear seat, which you would typically expect to be the focal point for a car like an LS.
Unveiled just a few hours ago at the on-going North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the flagship Lexus will now wear a new designation – LS 500, dropping the previous model’s LS 460 designation.
Here some highlights of the all-new Lexus LS:
New GA-L platform, Lower and Wider
Underpinning the all-new LS is the GA-L platform, which has already made its debut in the Lexus LC coupe.
Stiffer than any Lexus platforms in the past, the 3,125 mm wheelbase of the standard wheelbase all-new LS 500 is already 35 mm longer than the outgoing long wheelbase model LS 460L. It also sits 15 mm lower than before, while overall height has been lowered by 15 mm.
The all-new LS is not just physically lower than before, but its centre of gravity has also been brought closer to the ground. The key to this is the GA-L platform, which allows the engine and passengers to be placed closer to the centre.
Hello 3.5-litre V6, goodbye 4.6-litre V8
The legendary 4.6-litre naturally aspirated V8, which traces its history back to the first Lexus LS 400’s famous champagne glass TV commercial will bid its farewell, replaced by a more CO2 emissions friendly 3.2-litre twin turbo V6.
The force fed V6 engine with electric waste gate produces 415 hp and 600 Nm of torque, 35 hp and 107 Nm more than the outgoing V8.
There are three driving modes to choose from Normal, Sport and Sport+, with the final two adjusting the exhaust note accordingly.
Drive is transferred either to the rear wheels or all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission, a first in its class. Lexus says the torque converter automatic shift time is comparable to a dual-clutch automatic. Torque converter lock-up is activated in all ranges, except when starting off, to provide a direct feel, while at the same time supporting fuel efficiency.
The driver (or chauffeur) can even select any of the 10 ratios by using the pair of paddle shifters, again not something that you would expect from an LS.
Lexus claims a 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 4.5 seconds (all-wheel drive model).
It steers the rear wheels too
Already available in F Sport versions of the IS and GS models in some markets, the all-new LS now benefits from the latest Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) feature, which allows for independent front and rear steering. It should grant the LS a level of agility that you wouldn’t expect a large limousine to be capable of.
It also has active anti-roll bars, and the new Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) is now hooked up with all vehicle sub-systems – braking, steering, powertrain and suspension – to control the car’s basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion, as well as yaw, roll and pitch.
Special braces in the engine compartment and stiff aluminum suspension towers will also improve chassis control, while multilink suspension has double ball joints on the upper and lower arms for precise steering response.
24-inch colour Heads Up Display – World’s Largest
As for the gadgets, the focal point is the optional 24-inch colour heads up display, which Lexus says is the largest in any car. Lexus’ signature Remote Touch Interface has also been upgraded to mimic a smartphone operation and can support handwritten input.
The cabin is kept serene by employing Active Noise Control to cancel out undesirable frequencies by using anti-phase sound from the speakers.
There’s an optional rear seat luxury package that equips the rear seats with Shiatsu massage function and a raised ottoman leg rest. It also allows the seat behind the front passenger to recline up to 48 degrees, and raised up to 24 degrees to make it easier to exit the vehicle.
When equipped with the optional air suspension with an access function, the car automatically raises itself and opens to seat bolsters when unlocked using the smart key, to allow for easier access.
By combining the Lexus Safety System+ and the Advanced Safety Package, the all-new Lexus LS is equipped with the world’s first system with Intuitive Pedestrian Detection with Active Steering within the lane. With this system, if a pedestrian is detected in the lane ahead and a collision is imminent, the LS is designed to automatically brake and potentially steer around the person while staying in the lane. The available color HUD is utilized in alerting the driver.
As mentioned earlier, this all-new Lexus LS will only go on sale in late-2017, and we don’t expect lower volume right-hand markets like Malaysia to introduce the car until 2018. Lexus didn't say anything about the presence of a hybrid variant to replace the outgoing LS 600h, but we expect it to be announced at a later stage.