For the first time in its 28-year history, the LS debuts without a V8.
A little over a decade has gone by since we last saw a new Lexus flagship saloon, but you really wouldn’t have guessed it. In any case, Toyota’s luxury offshoot has today pulled the wraps off of the latest iteration of the LS limousine, at the very same motorshow where the marque and the moniker first debuted nearly three decades ago.
The new LS was “overdue,” according to the bosses at Lexus, but they’re happy that the new model will represent “a new level of luxury in every aspect.” Bold claims, but claims that we’re confident they can achieve. The latest LS debuts new technologies, a new platform, and a new power plant for the brand. The LS500 is due in Australia early next year.
Lexus said that it looked at the development of the new LS as if they were relaunching the brand altogether. With that in mind, the new LS brings with it a design that is longer and lower than the car it replaces it, while still retaining certain design elements that we’ve come to recognise from Lexus over recent years. The LS is built on an elongated version of Lexus’ GA-L (or Global Architecture - Luxury) platform, which also underpins the new LC coupe. The headliner here is what powers the new LS: A 3.5-litre, twin-turbo V6.
The LS has always featured a V8 under the bonnet, and this is the first real departure from that formula. The beating heart of the new LS500 is that twin charged V6, which squeezes 310kW and 600Nm out of its cylinders. Strong numbers that suggest the V8 won’t be missed too much, especially considering that the 4.6-litre V8 from the last iteration of the LS managed a more modest 285kW and 493Nm. All that power gets sent to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
The use of this new V6 in the LS, despite Lexus having V8s available (like the 5.0-litre from the RC F), clearly shows that the marque targets a very different kind of buyer with its flagship limousine, one that will demand the performance expected of a car in this segment, but with increasingly tight fuel consumption expectations. Speaking of which, performance figures have not been made public, but Lexus bosses have promised “excellent” fuel efficiency and a “constant build-up of torque,” which should mean a linear distribution of power despite forced induction.
There will be three power modes available to drivers (or more likely, chauffeurs), those being Normal, Sport, and Sport+. Regardless of drive mode, there is only “just enough of the exhaust note can be heard, to enhance the sporty feel.” A more “authoritative” note can be summoned, but an engine-monitoring Active Noise Control system (along with a myriad of sound suppression systems) will strive to deliver “utterly quiet cruising” regardless. There’s also Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management chassis control tech, which utilises the brakes, the steering, the power, and the suspension to limit body movement.
Generous use of aluminium and ultra-high tensile steel means that the LS loses 90kg from the outgoing car, a figure met by the employment of the smaller engine. The suspension systems also feature generous uses of aluminium, to this end. Although the supplied photographs do not show off the interior, Lexus says that they’ve taken a Japanese philosophy to the design. Specifically, ‘Omotenashi,’ or ‘the art of selfless hospitality.’ A 12.3-inch central display unit dominates the centre stack, while ambient lighting (“inspired by Japanese lanterns”) is dotted round the cabin, while the door-mounted arm-rests have been designed to seem like they float.
The new LS will feature safety tech like active cruise control, lane keep assist, and adaptive high beams. No self-driving tech here, with Lexus boss Tokuo Fukuichi saying that the autonomous-tech race we’re seeing from the brands’ competitors means “the customer has been lost in the conversation.” However, the new LS does feature a pedestrian avoidance system, which can recognise a human being in the road and not only brake, but also steer itself away from a collision.
On the luxury end of things, the LS offers 28-way power-adjustable front seats, replete with heating, cooling, and massage functions. The rear pews get the same options, while the captain’s chair (behind the front passenger) boasts a 48-degree reclining angle. It also raises itself by up to 24-degrees, to aid ingress and egress from the big Lexus. The LS now sits 15mm lower to the ground, which has prompted Lexus to offer an “access” functionality to the LS’s air suspension package, raising the car and relaxing the seat bolsters to allow for better movement in and out of the car.
Dimensions-wise, the LS is now 5,235mm long, on a 3,125mm wheelbase. This means it’s not only longer than even the ‘L’ extended-wheelbase version of the outgoing LS, it’s also longer than its chief rival, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The LS will not be offered in a shorter version, though we are now wondering if there might be an extended-wheelbase model of the new LS in the pipeline, and just how big that will be.
At present, there have been no details regarding autonomous driver assistance (ADAS) systems that may or may not be featured in the new LS, among others. Alternative powertrains also have not been detailed, though an earlier report has confirmed that a hydrogen LS will definitely be offered in the future, and a hybrid model is also likely.