Lexus talks up a design storm

By Alastair Sloane

Lexus says bold new design gives the brand greater visual presence.
Lexus says bold new design gives the brand greater visual presence.

The most obvious change to the new Lexus LS flagship is the introduction of the carmaker's new design language, first seen on the RX sports utility vehicle and GS sedan.

The LS has the same bold Spindle Grille and sharper headlights on all four variants: the LS 460, LS 460 L, LS 460 F Sport, and the all-wheel-drive LS 600hL hybrid.

The new signature nose is among more than 3000 claimed updates in the new luxury model, including three world firsts and 14 new-to-Lexus innovations.

Every body panel - apart from the roof, rear-quarter panels and doors - on the LS has been restyled in a design attempt to give the sedan a longer and wider look.

The new model will go on sale in New Zealand early next year. Lexus NZ marketing chief Neeraj Lala said: "We'll be offering the LS460 and long wheelbase LS600hL, plus F Sport versions of the LS460 and LS600h high-performance hybrid."

The LS460 F Sport has been added to give the range additional cachet. It gets an aggressively designed bodykit, paddle shifters, air suspension that lowers the body height by 10mm, a torque-sensing Torsen limited-slip differential, Brembo six-piston front brake callipers and an active anti-roll bar to give more controlled cornering. Inside there are heavily bolstered seats and aluminum trim.

Lexus claims the new LS line-up is 60 per cent structurally stronger than the outgoing range, in part because of body reinforcements, laser screw welding and adhesive body bonding, techniques it used on the LFA supercar.

In further refinement, there are optional hollow rims that will cut road noise. Lexus claims the restyled wheels make the LS travelling at 100km/h the quietest car in its class from the back seat.

The hybrid model adopts LED headlights for both low and high beam while the others have bi-Xenon units. All models get L-shaped daytime-running lights, which mirror the redesigned LED tail-lights that feature an L emblem when lit.

Shock absorbers have been redesigned to improve pitch and bounce control, the variable ratio steering improves accuracy and turn-in, and the brakes have been adjusted to provide better power and pedal feel, says Lexus.

Inside, surrounding a 30cm satellite-navigation screen with split-screen capability is what Lexus calls "a driver-focused interior".

This includes the joystick-style "remote touch" controller fitted to the GS, steering-wheel controls that can operate many of the car's features, an analogue clock using GPS data to keep time, and a new climate-control system that monitors cabin temperature using 13 sensors.

Lexus calls it the "Climate Concierge", a claimed world first that controls the ambient temperature, seat temperature and steering wheel temperature to comfort each occupant individually.

Five driving modes, ranging from Eco to Sport S+, enable owners to adjust the response of the steering, suspension and throttle to transform the LS from a limousine to a more dynamic hustler.

The redesigned seats and improved sound insulation make for "an even quieter cabin", says Lexus. An optional seating package offers built-in massage.

Safety gets a boost with a new blind spot monitor, in operation from 15km/h and part of a system that can detect traffic crossing behind the car when reversing.

Lexus international president Kiyotaka Ise said the LS was moving with the times.

"Our new flagship has much greater visual presence; the bold new design reflects how Lexus is evolving," he said.

"This new LS brings sharper driving dynamics, the highest levels of refinement and luxury and once again is supported by industry-leading technology."

- NZ Herald

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