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Lexus’ new LS 500h flagship saloon is to benefit from the company’s Multi Stage Hybrid System, a breakthrough technology that transforms the performance and driver appeal of hybrid power. The new LS 500h will make its world debut at the Geneva Motor Show on 7 March.
The system, first installed in the powertrain of the new LC 500h luxury coupe, brings multiple benefits in terms of improved throttle responsiveness, high-speed cruising at lower engine rpm and the ability to cruise of higher speeds at up to 85mph on electric power alone.
At the same time, overall fuel efficiency and emissions performance are improved, while preserving the smooth, quiet and sophisticated drive that is a hallmark of Lexus hybrids.
It is possible that no single automobile has, upon introduction, upended its category as decisively as the first Lexus LS did when it launched the luxury brand 28 years ago. The 1990 LS 400 was the original luxury disruptor, winning critical acclaim and astonishing customers by setting new benchmarks for comfort, powertrain performance and smoothness, quietness, build quality, attention to detail, and dependability.
Now, Lexus is about to repeat history with the introduction of the all-new, fifth-generation LS flagship saloon for 2018, unveiled at the 2017 North American International Auto Show. Inside and out, the new LS reflects a strong, uniquely Japanese identity and approach to luxury. “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.”
Longer and lower than the saloon it replaces, the all-new LS debuts a strikingly bold design with a coupe-like silhouette punctuated by the new Lexus design language. This premium rear-wheel drive platform, an extended version of the one used for the stunning new Lexus LC 500 coupe, will offer a more dynamic experience on the road while further elevating renowned Lexus comfort.
Just as the original LS launched the Lexus brand, the all new 2018 LS continues the brand’s more dynamic direction.
To create the all-new LS, Lexus took the approach of starting from new, re-imagining what a flagship saloon should be, as if launching the brand all over again. The goal was not to improve on what Lexus has done, but to exceed expectations of global luxury customers.
A common thread going through all LS models remains: Omotenashi, the concept of Japanese hospitality. Applied to a luxury automobile, it means taking care of the driver and passengers, anticipating their needs, attending to their comfort and helping to protect them from hazards.
More than ever before, luxury saloon drivers demand greater handling agility and performance feel without sacrificing comfort. To enhance centre of gravity height and weight distribution, the new LS is offered only as a long wheel base model, with a wide and low design.
The 3,125 mm wheelbase is 35 mm longer than the current LS long-wheelbase model.
Helping to provide the uncanny ride and handling balance in the new LS is the latest generation of a chassis control technology known as Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). This system implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems – braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension – to control basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Optimal control of these motions helps to enable exceptional ride comfort, enhanced traction and safety and handling agility.
“The LS is the flagship of the Lexus brand,” said Chief Designer Koichi Suga. “More than any other model, it embodies the history and image of Lexus and serves as a symbol for everything the brand stands for.” Lexus designers took full advantage of the new platform, with its lower profile and length on par with that of a prestige long-wheelbase saloon, to give the new LS a stretched, ground-hugging appearance. Compared to the current LS, the new model is about 15 mm lower, while the bonet and boot are approximately 30 mm and 41 mm lower, respectively.
Creating a new standard of flagship luxury is not simply a matter of adding more features. Inspired by the omotenashi principle, Lexus sought to instil the new LS cabin with luxury that welcomes and envelops the occupants while treating the driver like a partner.
“I suggest that you simply open the door and experience that immediate, intuitive sense that you’re looking at an interior that is unlike any luxury car before,” said Chief Designer Suga.
New seating designs, including available 28-way power front seats that feature heating, cooling and massage, exemplify this approach. The organically shaped dash design clusters information displays at uniform height to support the “seat-in-control” layout that emphasizes the driver’s ability to operate all systems without the need to change posture.
Options for heating, cooling and massage make the rear seat a most welcoming environment. The available power front and rear seat with Shiatsu massage and a raised ottoman, part of a wider rear seat luxury package, offers the most legroom of any previous-generation LS. In addition, the seat behind the front passenger in this optional package can be reclined up to 48 degrees, and can be raised up to 24 degrees to help assist the rear-seat passenger in exiting the vehicle.
Because the new LS is lower than previous versions, Lexus for the first time equipped the available air suspension with an access function. Activated by unlocking the car with the smart key, access mode automatically raises the vehicle and opens the seat bolsters to welcome drivers behind the wheel.
Lighting and attention to detail express a unique aesthetic in the LS. A new approach to creating trim elements again turned to Japanese culture, combining traditional Japanese aesthetic with advanced manufacturing techniques. This is reflected in signature touches, such as beautiful interior ambient lighting inspired by Japanese lanterns and armrests that appear to float next to the door panel.
Inspired by Shimamoku wood patterns, the new forms that combine the artistic combination of natural woodwork and application of Japan’s sophisticated sliced wood and laser cutting manufacturing technologies can be seen in the new LS.
Lexus tuned the LS exhaust to convey a more authoritative tone, yet also designed the cabin to ensure utterly quiet cruising. New sound suppression methods further hush the environment compared to previous LS models. Active Noise Control further quiets the cabin by detecting the sound of the engine coming into the vehicle and cancelling certain frequencies using antiphase sound from the audio speakers.
The serenity of the LS cabin provides an ideal stage for the standard premium audio system or the audiophile-worthy available 3D surround Mark Levinson audio package with in-ceiling array speakers. The package features a more inviting graphic user interface. Its next-generation remote touch is designed to mimic smartphone operation, also supporting handwritten input. In addition to its 12.3-inch wide navigation display, the LS can incorporate an optional large colour heads-up display (HUD) that projects a variety of information onto the driver’s forward view.
Structurally, the all-new Lexus LS offers a high degree of passive safety for occupant protection in collisions. Lexus has also equipped the LS with technologies that can possibly help prevent crashes from occurring or mitigate their effects. The LS will feature the brand’s Lexus Safety System + and offer an advanced safety system, which features the world’s first intuitive pedestrian detection with active steering.
With this system, if a pedestrian is detected in the lane ahead and a collision is imminent, the LS will automatically brake and steer around the person while staying in the lane. The available colour HUD is utilized in alerting the driver. High-level Driving Support called Lexus CoDrive is also introduced in the new LS. It enables control steering in accordance with the driver’s intention and continuous driving support in highways.
|Vehicle type||Full size premium luxury saloon|
|Overall length||5,235 mm|