“The Lexus LS is the most profound statement that we can make about our brand.”
With these words the Lexus LS chief engineer Hideki Watanabe and his team set about improving the Lexus flagship in what is now described as the most comprehensive and dramatic vehicle enhancement ever done in the Lexus Group.
With the launch of the new LS460 only the exterior door panels remain the same, while more than 3 000 major parts and components – from the dashboard, seats and engine control unit – have been redesigned or improved.
“One easily forgets that dramatic change is in the spirit of Lexus and, as the pioneer of the Lexus brand, of the LS,” says Justin Ryan, General Manager: Lexus South Africa.
“The first generation of LS set new global records for time and money invested in the development of a single model, while every Lexus since has upset the status quo with its long list of luxuries included in the price.”
Look no further than the extra-large Lexus Spindle Grille on the new LS for signs of dramatic change. Dubbed internally the “King Spindle” the new grille was designed with input from engineers throughout the group to ensure that it remained structurally rigid, while using a large portion of the front real estate.
The grille itself is completely framed in chrome – a first under the new phase of Lexus L-finesse design – and is flanked on two levels by LED light detailing. The first, on the lower level, are the new horizontal LED fog light units. Higher up Lexus’ now familiar LED daytime running light signature is visible in micro-engineered LEDs that form a single light row and higher intensity lighting.
The headlights itself are a lesson in advanced engineering. With dual high impact discharge (Bi-HID) light units in each cluster, the LS has an imposing presence in the dark, while its intelligent adaptive front lighting systems (AFS) uses sensors to automatically move one or both light units to adjust front light coverage based on ambient light, pedestrians and weather conditions.
The new sculpted bonnet draws the eye across the sound-insulating windscreen and across the roof and along the chiselled flanks to the rear of the vehicle. On the way to the new three dimensional L-Finesse rear light clusters you will notice new 19” alloy wheels, restyled side mirrors with integrated LED turn indicators, puddle lights and aero stabilising fins, standard privacy glass with rear side and back window automated blinds and new side skirts.
At the rear the light signature is completed with L-shaped light guides that were designed to increase day and night time visibility, while enhancing the vehicle’s low-slung appearance.
The restyled rear boot lid conceals a reverse camera and rear sensors that work in combination with the vehicle’s blind spot monitoring system.
Other invisible design changes include the ample use of new types of high tensile steel and aluminium in the body construction and a complete redesign of the aerodynamics of the vehicle with the inclusion of under body stabilisers to create a venturi effect, reduce wind drag and improve vehicle stability at very high speeds. The Lexus LS has a drag coefficient of only 0.26.
It is in the cabin that true Japanese craftsmanship and Lexus generosity are most visible.
Once inside the driver and passengers are cossetted by some of the world’s finest leather and real wood or bamboo inserts, while the new dashboard and instrument binnacle uses minimalist design cues and standard adaptive mood lighting to create a calming interior where all controls fall easily to hand, but is never overpowering.
Speaking of wood and leather, the new LS is now also available with real Japanese Shimamoku trim, which is a dazzling fine wood layering technique that takes no less than 67 steps and 38 days to complete. This is of course available at no extra cost to the discerning LS driver.
The new LS features a world first Climate Concierge system. Sensors measure the temperature of each of zones and the exterior and adjust the standard four zone climate control, seat heating and cooling and heated steering wheel accordingly. The air conditioner also ionises and purifies all interior air to remove smells, pollutants and pollen.
Behind the wheel the driver has access to a several information displays, notably a 5.8 inch (14.7 cm) colour display in the central instrument binnacle and a 12.3 inch (31.2 cm) electro multi vision (EMV) display above the analogue clock. Interestingly the clock is hewn from aluminium and illuminates when a person carrying the key approaches the car. The clock is also equipped with a GPS system to adjust time according to the relevant time zone.
The large EMV screen is operated with the next generation of Lexus’ remote touch interface (RTI) and contains the majority of vehicle adjustments and the ability to display several features, such as the standard satellite navigation and iPod cover art, at the same time. The LS is also equipped with a Voice Control system, while the RTI controller has been designed to offer haptic feedback, to allow for use during driving without taking one’s eyes off the road.
The EMV screen is further host to a full satellite navigation system with hard drive and traffic information as standard.
Flanking the RTI controller is the new Lexus Drive Mode Select control that changes vehicle dynamics, from the suspension to steering feel, engine characteristics and throttle response, based on the driver’s requirements. The driver can choose between ECO/COMFORT, NORMAL, SPORT and very focussed SPORT+. This system is also linked to the vehicle’s adaptive air suspension to change ride and handling characteristics in each mode.
A favourite feature of past LS owners has returned in the form of an upgraded Mark Levinson sound system. The system now features 19 speakers, a 15 channel amplifier, true 7.1 surround and connectivity for virtually every type of sound input, from Bluetooth, Blu-ray discs, iPods, USB and MP3 discs.
This system has received over 2 000 hours of dedicated fine tuning and considered reference quality with less than 0.1% total harmonic distortion. This feature is a no-cost added luxury in the new LS 460.
The rear occupants in the new LS 460 also have access to a power operated roof mounted rear seat screen with in-built entertainment and connecting ports for most auxiliary entertainment systems.
The Lexus LS460 is equipped with many more upgraded features such as 16-way power seat adjustment with memory function for the driver and 14-way adjustment for the front passenger. The seat and steering position and general vehicle set-up can be linked to any of the vehicle’s keys, which means the vehicle will change all creature comforts based on the driver’s pre-set requirements as the key he or she is carrying is detected.
Other features include radar-assisted adaptive cruise control, a powered moon roof, plush pile carpeting, motorised rear and side blinds, a full function remote control system for rear passengers and an advanced illumination system that not only offers mood specific interior lighting, but also adds movement to the lighting and changes the instrument binnacle to reflect the chosen drive mode.
It is when the driver starts the LS460 that the aggressive design is substantiated and the dynamic improvements of the new Lexus GS and Lexus IS also shines through in the Lexus flagship.
The vehicle is equipped with an upgraded 4.6 litre V8 with 32 valves and dual intelligent variable valve timing (Dual VVT-i) that delivers maximum figures of 285 kW at 6 400 rpm and 493 Nm at 4 100 rpm. The engine propels the LS460 to 100 km/h from rest in 5.7 seconds and top speed is governed at 250 km/h accompanied by a new aural sound track thanks to the inclusion of a new acoustically engineered sound amplifier linked to the V8 engine.
Fuel consumption was tested at 10.7 ℓ per 100 km in a combined cycle, which is 3% lower than the predecessor’s 11.1 ℓ/100 km consumption figure.
The power is delivered to the rear wheels through an 8 speed automatic transmission with sequential shift mode, while all four corners ride on adaptive multi-link air suspension.
“It is in this area that the new LS460 truly excels,” says Ryan. “Lexus engineers have increased the vehicle’s torsional rigidity dramatically, which benefits driving dynamics and stability.”
Another new feature is special noise reducing tyres and wheels, which not only produce less road noise, but the wheel wells are also equipped with special noise channelling chambers that move noise away from the cabin and allow for one of the quietest cabins of any current production vehicle.
As luxury flagship, the new Lexus LS460 sets new standards in occupant and pedestrian safety for the Lexus brand. The new model is equipped with one of the world’s most advanced pre-crash avoidance systems (PCS) thanks to the fitment of a stereo millimetre wave radar system.
The PCS system monitors the vehicle’s surroundings (including pedestrians), warns the driver of any danger, prepares the cabin safety equipment (such as headrests and seatbelts) if an accident looks probable.
Apart from monitoring its surroundings, the unique PCS system also features facial recognition to monitor and counteract driver fatigue. The system works in conjunction with other standard safety features such as vehicle stability control (VSC), Traction Control (TRAC), tyre pressure monitoring, rain sensing wipers and side blind spot monitoring (BSM) to keep occupants safe at all times.
Local market information
With all features as standard the prospective owner only has to choose his or her colour and trim choice.
Exterior colour choices are:
Interior trim options include:
The Lexus LS460 is available immediately at R1 236 700 with a full four year / 100 000 km Lexus Distance Plan Complete full maintenance plan and warranty with roadside assistance. Service intervals are set at 15 000 km.