It was 28 years ago that the first-generation Lexus LS made its debut at the 1989 Detroit Auto Show. Today, the all-new 2018 Lexus LS luxury sedan bows in at the same show promising to redefine luxury motoring and customer satisfaction.
Lexus says its approach was to start from new – reimagining what a flagship sedan should be, as if launching the brand all over again – just as the first LS did when it launched Lexus onto the global stage 28 years ago.
Longer and lower than the sedan it replaces, the all-new LS debuts a strikingly bold design with a coupe-like silhouette punctuated by the new Lexus design language, while adding what Lexus calls ‘visionary technology’.
LS chief engineer Toshio Asahi said the new flagship sedan reflects a strong, unique identity and approach to luxury, achieving previously unheard-of targets.
“Not only will the LS symbolise the Lexus brand, it will become the definitive new-generation luxury car embodying Japanese tradition and culture,” Mr Asahi said. “As such, this global pinnacle must go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury car.”
The new LS sits on Lexus’ new global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA-L) and is an extended version of the one used for the stunning new Lexus LC 500 Coupe. It promises to deliver a more dynamic experience while further elevating renowned Lexus comfort. For optimum weight distribution and low centre of gravity, the new LS is offered only as a long-wheelbase model, with a wide and low design. The new platform is said to be the stiffest in Lexus history, helping the new luxury sedan to achieve a superior ride and handling balance compared to its predecessor.
The 3125mm wheelbase is 33mm longer than the current-generation LS long-wheelbase model, while overall, the new LS is approximately 15mm lower than the outgoing model.
Measuring 5,235mm in length, 1,900mm in width and 1,450mm in height, the new model is roughly the same size as a long-wheelbase BMW 7 Series.
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 co-operative 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.
Handling is further enhanced by available features including active stabiliser bars and the Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) System with independent front and rear steering.
VDIM is even capable of aiding stability when the car is traversing split-friction surfaces, such as dry pavement and ice.
In creating the new LS, engineers used lightweight materials including ultra-high tensile steel sheet and aluminium to carve more than 90kg from the current LS platform and body.
The multilink suspension employs double ball joints on the upper and lower control arms to help allow for control of the smallest movements from the driver inputs and road conditions. A dual ball joint arrangement helps optimise suspension geometry to increase wheel control and yield more precise steering response with better initial effort.
Powering the 2018 Lexus LS is a new 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 borrowing technology from Formula 1, offering V8-level of power without sacrificing fuel economy, while minimising noise and vibration. It produces 310kW of power and 600Nm of torque – a sizeable gain over the current LS model’s V8. 0-100km/h is estimated to take just 4.6 seconds in RWD configuration.
The new LS also debuts the first-ever 10-speed automatic transmission for a premium passenger car, first seen on the Lexus LC 500. While it is a torque-converter automatic, Lexus says shift times rival that of dual-clutch transmission.
Inside, the LS’ cabin features an ‘organically-shaped’ dash design to support a “seat-in-control” layout that emphasises the driver’s ability to operate all systems without the need to change posture.
New seat designs include available 28-way power front seats that feature heating, cooling and massage, all of which are also available for the rear seats as an option. The rear seats can further be optioned with Shiatsu massage and a raised ottoman as part of a wider rear seat luxury package, offering 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.
There’s a 3d surround Mark Levinson audio package with in-ceiling array speakers, a next-generation remote touch display with hand writing support, a 12.3-inch sat-nav display and optional 24-inch colour heads-up display – the largest in the world.
Active safety technologies include a world’s first system with Intuitive Pedestrian Detection and Active Steering within the lane in which the car can automatically brake and steer around a person while staying in the lane.
The all-new 2018 Lexus LS is expected to arrive in Australia in early 2018.