25/9/12

Overview: Lexus LS

Lexus has revealed its new LS model range, comprising the LS 460, LS 600h and, for the first time in the history of the LS, an F Sport version.

The new LS continues Lexus’s development of its model line-up, following on from the recent introduction of the new GS. Lexus boasts that the new model is more refined than its predecessor, while there has been an ‘evolution’ of the car’s technologies and its build quality.

Lexus LS 600hL.

The most obvious changes are to the exterior styling, where the new LS adopts the current Lexus front grille design, but the development of the model also includes improved driving dynamics, better sound insulation and more sophisticated and effective preventive safety systems. As these systems are proliferating and are available off-the-shelf at rapidly falling prices, it is increasingly difficult for premium brands like Lexus to stay ahead of the pack.

Among the changes made to the car are three world-firsts and 15 ‘Lexus-first’ features and technologies.

In a first for Lexus, all lights — headlights, rear lamps and fog lights — are available as LED units. The new shape vertical fog lights include new L-shaped, seamless light tube daytime running lights.

Lexus’s work to enhance the dynamic performance of the new LS extends back to the production line and the introduction of technologies that have increased the bodyshell rigidity, including the use of laser screw welding and adhesive body bonding techniques. The result, Lexus claims, is a more comfortable ride, but with no loss of handling agility.

The LS’s Adaptive Variable Suspension has been developed further, with a new four-wheel interlock control, which suppresses roll, pitch and heave vibration at all four wheels simultaneously. Damping response has been made smoother and more highly controlled to give a superior ride.

Revisions to the steering are aimed at delivering improvements in accuracy and turn-in response, and the braking system has been redesigned to give more immediate power and better pedal feel. Even the length of stroke, angle and contact surface of the brake pedal have been tweaked to make braking more responsive and comfortable.

The new LS gains another Lexus first in the form of its Drive Mode Select, offering five switchable driving modes: Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport S and Sport S+. These offer the familiar adjustment of vehicle systems to help deliver the driver’s preferred balance of economy, comfort, performance and handling characteristics.

A number of vehicle systems that were previously operated independently have now been consolidated within the Drive Mode Select for ease of use. Changing modes is by way of a dial selector on the front console.

The new F Sport model combines more sporting exterior and interior design elements with real dynamic enhancements, including lowering of the ride height by 10mm, Brembo six-piston calliper front brakes and paddle shift controls for the transmission. It also benefits from the addition of a Torsen limited slip differential. When the transmission is being used manually, down-changes are accompanied by automated engine-speed matching (throttle-blipping).

Less worthy is an intake sound generator on the engine that ‘amplifies the vibration of the intake pulse and introduces it into the cabin.’

Improvements have been made to engine, road and wind noise sound insulation, and, in a first for Lexus, new hollow chamber noise reduction wheels can be fitted, which cut the amount of noise experienced in the cabin. The previous model was already one of the quietest cars we have ever driven.

The seats have been improved and, in a world first, the front and rear seat climate control and the steering wheel rim heater can be automatically co-ordinated and incorporated in the new Lexus Climate Concierge system, which uses an array of up to 13 sensors around the cabin to deliver heating and cooling across four cabin zones.

The interior is lit by new soft white interior lamps and dynamic instrument panel lighting.

As well as focusing on greater refinement, the interior also presents further advances in Lexus’s human-machine interface technologies. The Remote Touch Interface access to the car’s infotainment systems, via a 31cm multimedia display — a screen large enough to present two areas of information simultaneously.

The Lexus Navigation system uses a hard disk and internet connectivity; Lexus claims it one of the fastest and most accurate systems on the market. All U.K. versions will be fitted with a 19-speaker Mark Levinson Reference Surround System, and the rear seat entertainment system has been upgraded to include a Blu-Ray disc player.

The new LS is fitted with a new Advanced Pre-Crash Safety system with collision avoidance assist. It is designed to help the driver avoid an accident, or if the worst happens, mitigate the consequences of a collision, with vehicles or pedestrians. It can operate across a wide range speeds, and in daylight or darkness.

The Lane-Keep Assist system has been upgraded so that it can respond to external factors such as changes in road camber and crosswinds. A Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) system is also available.

The new Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h will go on sale in the U.K. later this year. We wil have further details of the car’s specification then.

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