The all-new Lexus LS 500 sedan delivers premium levels of powertrain smoothness, spaciousness, handling, ride comfort, safety, craftsmanship and attention to detail.
The fifth-generation LS is based on a new rear-drive platform and features a bold design with a coupe-like silhouette.
One powertrain is offered in the LS which comes standard with an all-new 3.5-litre, twin turbocharged V6 that delivers 310kW at 6000rpm. Furthermore, it also boasts a unique 10-speed transmission.
The new LS 500 draws on the proud history of its predecessors. The new Lexus flagship is destined to repeat LS history as a car that redefines and advances automotive luxury expectations and customer satisfaction.
With multiple world and Lexus firsts, it breaks new ground in design, technology and performance. More than any other model, the LS embodies the history and image of Lexus and serves as a symbol for everything the brand represents - a luxury lifestyle offering amazing experiences.
Japanese aesthetics, which draw on the skills of master craftsmen and the "omotenashi" or hospitality principle, reflects the human-centred engineering and attention to detail inherent with the Lexus brand. This human touch gives the Lexus brand its soul and sets it apart from its competitors.
LS chief engineer Toshio Asahi said the challenge for Lexus with the fifth-generation model was not simply to go beyond the achievements of the past, but to re-imagine what a global flagship sedan should be.
"In doing so, four key pillars underpinned the development of the new LS - brave design, Takumi craftsmanship, exhilarating performance and imaginative technology," Asahi said.
Foundation for the new design and chassis was the Global Architecture – Luxury (GA-L) platform that allowed Lexus to extend the wheelbase, provide a spacious interior, and achieve an ideal front-rear weight balance as well as the lowest centre of gravity in class for greater agility and comfort.
Furthermore, the advanced new front and rear seat designs offer class-leading levels of adjustment and sophisticated new massage functions. In-cabin technology includes a 12.3-inch multi-media screen, head-up display with segment-leading size, rear-seat DVD entertainment as well as the finest quality Mark Levinson 23-speaker QLI Reference Surround Sound audio system, which is unique to Lexus' most exclusive models.
TWIN-TURBO V6 AND 10-SPEED TRANSMISSION
The all-new 3.5-litre V6 engine has been designed specifically for the new LS, providing both high power and excellent fuel efficiency.
The engine is indicative of the more dynamic approach taken by Lexus, offering V8-level power without sacrificing fuel economy whilst minimising noise and vibration. The output figures of 310kW and 600Nm of torque at 6000rpm represent sizeable gains compared to the V8 unit featured in the outgoing LS. The engine’s long stroke and optimised stroke-to-bore ratio contribute to high-speed combustion and the efficiency of the twin turbos, helping the LS post a projected 0 – 100 km/h acceleration time of 5 seconds.
Perhaps more critical is the way Lexus has tuned the engine and transmission to deliver instant acceleration and a constant build-up of torque towards the engine’s red line.
The driver will be able to tailor powertrain response and feel by selecting Normal to Sport drive modes, with just enough of the exhaust note being audible to enhance the sporty feel.
The LS marks the first use of a 10-speed automatic transmission in a luxury sedan, the system having made its debut in the new LC coupe. It is a torque converter automatic, yet with shift times that rival those of dual-clutch transmissions. The wide band width afforded by the ten closely-spaced ratios is ideal for all forms of driving, providing an optimal gear for all conditions.
The driver can execute shifts using paddle controls, but many will prefer to use the advanced electronic control system, which anticipates the driver’s input. The system chooses the ideal ratio by monitoring the acceleration, braking and lateral G-forces.
Furthermore, the frontal design makes a bold statement with the dramatic forward thrust of the spindle grille and a low bonnet profile, achieved thanks to the positioning of the front suspension towers permitted by the new GA-L platform. The boundary between the bonnet and the fenders is deeply sculpted, accentuating the contrast between the different surfaces.
At the rear, the shoulder line connects to the rear combination lamps, then folds down and back on itself to connect to the rear diffuser, echoing the lines of the spindle grille. The full LED combination lamps have a sleek design with strong vertical corners that give them an instantly recognisable shape.
The LS is equipped as standard with a glass sunroof which opens externally. This allows for a design that is 30mm thinner than previously, preserving cabin headroom beneath the low roofline.
Torque converter lock-up is activated in all ranges, except when starting off, to provide a direct feel, while at the same time supporting fuel efficiency. Top speed for the LS is electronically govenered to 250 km/h. Fuel consumption is listed as 9.5 litres per 100 kilometres.
Suspension compliance has been a defining element in the ride quality and comfort of successive Lexus LS generations. With the latest model a new, high-mounted multilink system has been developed for both the front and rear suspension, allowing even better performance to be achieved.
The front system uses double-ball joints for both the upper and lower control arms, allowing control of the smallest movements caused by driver inputs or the road surface. This unique arrangement optimises the suspension geometry to increase wheel control and give more precise steering control with better initial effort. To help reduce weight, aluminium is used extensively throughout the suspension.
The rear system is a new, compact multilink design that provides high levels of stability. As with the front arrangement, it is based on the suspension developed for the LC coupe, but with adjustments to the bushing to enhance handling stability and ride comfort.
ADAPTIVE VARIABLE SUSPENSION
The new LS is available with a new, more advanced Adaptive Variable Suspension (activated when in Sport S+ mode) that provides continuous adjustment of damping control for all four wheels in response to the way the car is being driven and road surface conditions. This continuously variable capability has increased the number of control levels from nine (in the previous LS’ system) to 650. The result is faster, seamless and more refined operation.
For example, when driving on uneven roads, the system can increase ride comfort without too great an increase in damping force. When the steering wheel is turned, however, damping force is automatically increased to suppress the effect of the car’s weight transfer and maintain a flat cornering attitude.
A new, electronically-controlled air suspension is also available for the new LS, providing exceptional ride quality. It uses a closed system in which compressed air is stored in pneumatic tank so that it can be supplied to the suspension at the moment it’s needed to raise vehicle height.
The air suspension is used to provide the new LS’ Access mode for ease of entry to and exit from the vehicle.
DESIGN GENERATED BY THE SPINDLE GRILLE
The spindle grille has become a signature feature of Lexus vehicle design, but its purpose is not simply a brand signifier. On the new LS it provides a starting point for the car’s design theme, generating lines which flow through the body and converge at the rear.
The grille itself has an intricate mesh design with 5,000 individual surfaces which took highly skilled CAD modellers several months to produce, followed by further precision adjustment by hand.
Lexus has revolutionised the LS’ design principles, moving from its established “three-box” sedan to a car that presents a radically different, coupe-like silhouette. Its lower, sleeker lines, which are more appealing to today’s customers, have been achieved without sacrificing any of the spaciousness and comfort that are fundamental to the LS’ status as a flagship model.
A shoulder line running from front to rear emphasises the low centre of gravity and the car’s low posture, accentuating the horizontal axis. The lines of the front and rear fenders are slanted forwards, generating a dynamic impression and evoking the car’s performance qualities.
The ground-hugging appearance is not an illusion: the GA-L platform has allowed the LS’ height to be reduced by 15.2 mm, with the hood and boot lowered even further – by approximately 30.5 and 40.6 mm respectively.
The frontal design makes a bold statement with the dramatic forward thrust of the spindle grille and a low hood profile, achieved thanks to the positioning of the front suspension towers, permitted by the new GA-L platform.
The boundary between the hood and the fenders is deeply sculpted, playing up the contrast between the different surfaces.
The LS is equipped as standard with a glass sunroof which opens externally. This allows for a design that is 30 mm thinner than previously, preserving cabin headroom beneath the low roofline.
The LS is available with 20-inch run flat tyres, with high gloss cast alloys. In South Africa, 11 different exterior paint finishes are available including a new Manganese Luster shade, Black Titanium, Sonic Agate and the new Sonic Titanium.
The design of the new LS’ interior combines traditional Japanese aesthetics with advanced manufacturing techniques, reflected in elements such as the soft ambient lighting that makes the armrests appear to float next to the door panels, and new ways of working with wood to create trims with vibrant and detailed grain patterns.
The new LS provides a driver-focused cockpit and a front passenger seat area designed to gently envelop the occupant. Elements such as leather, precise stitch-work and detailed metal and wood accents add to the welcoming ambiance with a range of textures and surfaces that are pleasing to the eye and touch.
The seats are upholstered in a new Semi-Aniline Leather (a type of leather dyed exclusively with soluble dyes without covering the surface with a topcoat paint or insoluble pigments) that is remarkably soft and supple. The dashboard has a sweeping array of fixed, horizontal metal fins spanning its full width, neatly concealing the movable fins that direct airflow from the air conditioning vents. The information displays are positioned at a uniform height in a “seat-in-control” layout that allows the driver to view and operate all the systems without changing their body posture.
The new steering wheel has a three-spoke design and smaller diameter (-10 mm) than that used in the previous LS model. The profile varies around the circumference to provide ideal grip characteristics.
Two interior colours are available which are Black as well as Crimson and Black. The trim choices include Art Wood Organic and Herringbone.
The fine skills of Takumi craftspeople (responsible for ensuring that the required excellent quality is achieved) contribute to the high quality of every Lexus vehicle, but in developing the new LS, Lexus has gone further to combine the traditions of Japanese culture and aesthetics with contemporary design and advanced technologies.
The Takumi craftsmanship combines the best traditions of Japanese culture and aesthetics with modern design and technologies. The luxury interior embraces the artform of Origami in the creation of exclusive ornamentation and hand-pleated door panels.
PREMIUM ACCESS (FRONT AND REAR)
To make getting in and out of the new LS as comfortable as possible, the LS is equipped with air suspension which provides a Premium Access function. This automatically raises the low-slung sedan by 40 mm to an ideal 555 mm hip-height in just four seconds when the vehicle is unlocked. Once the occupants are on board and engine is switched on, the car returns to its regular ride height. The same convenient height adjustment is made when the car is stopped and a door is opened for someone to exit. The access mode control function can be switched on and off on the multi-information display customise screen.
For the driver and front seat passenger, there is a sense of the car being prepared for their arrival, with the seat belt holder extending by 50 mm when the front doors are opened, ready for use. For the driver, the holder also rises when the engine is switched off, to make unbuckling easier. The feeling of being welcomed into the car continues with the outer cushion bolster opening out when the car is unlocked, and then automatically returning to its normal, supportive position when the driver is seated. The driver’s seat also automatically rises and moves rearwards to make for easier exit from the vehicle; similarly, when the driver enters the car, it returns to the previous driving position when they are seated.
The cabin lighting adds to the sense of welcome, with an illumination inspired by the soft glow of traditional Japanese Andon lanterns. Light sources are located behind the door trim panels and armrest, giving indirect, downward illumination that adds to the sense of spaciousness.
The multi-function touchscreen in the rear centre armrest console is used to precisely control the position of the rear seats, together with audio, climate, sunshade and interior lighting functions. The front passenger seat and entertainment monitor are also automatically adjusted to suit the chosen configuration.
There are three pre-set rear seat positions: Business, which is the default; Entertain, which reclines the seat for comfortable viewing of the entertainment monitor, and Relax, which extends the leg ottoman, deeply reclines the seatback and moves the front passenger seat to its further forward position to provide maximum legroom (at 1,022 mm, 86 mm more than in the previous LS. When the passenger arrives at their destination, the seat automatically returns to its default position as soon as the rear door is opened, allowing for an easy and comfortable exit.
The rear seats are available with best-in-class 22-way adjustment, including back, hip and pelvis support and ottoman extension. The angle of rear seat recline is also class-leading, at 48 degrees, achieved through adept packaging and a revised reclining mechanism.
FRONT SEATING WITH 28-WAY ADJUSTMENT & SHIATSU MASSAGE
The new LS is available with a new driver’s seat with 28-way power and pneumatic adjustment, including new controls to adapt support for the back, pelvis and hips. The level of adjustment is the best in the LS’ segment.
The design provides excellent side holding, pelvis stability and shoulder support, and allows people of all body sizes and types to find their ideal position at the wheel and feel at one with the car.
Built on a new frame, the front seats are stronger and more rigid, using a high-tensile steel side frame, yet they weigh only about 6 kg.
ADVANCED SAFETY FEATURES AND DRIVER SUPPORT
The all-new LS marks the introduction of new technologies that provide leading safety performance and a new level of driver assistance that signals Lexus’ progress towards developing future automated driving systems.
The LS’ headlights each feature an arrangement of eight upper and 16 lower LEDs. The Two-stage Adaptive High-beam System provides optimal lighting with separate on/off control of each row LEDs, giving finer control of lighting strength and distance compared to Lexus’ established AHS. This allows for the car to be driven for longer on high-beam without dazzling vehicles ahead or oncoming traffic, improving night-time visibility.
Furthermore the LS 500 has Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) airbags in the driver, passenger, side, knee and curtain areas with rear cushioning.
Pre-Crash Safety System
Designed to detect the risk of an impact and operating in unison with warning and braking systems, the Pre-Crash System helps to lessen the damage sustained in a collision.
The system is designed to recognise other vehicles using data from a forward recognition camera and the radar sensor.
If it determines that the possibility of an accident is high, pre-crash warning control and pre-crash brake assist control are initiated. If a collision is imminent, pre-crash braking control will be engaged -to help reduce the impact of the collision or help avoid it.
If the driver fails to react and the system judges a collision to be imminent, the brakes are automatically applied to reduce vehicle speed by up to 40km/h, which could potentially bring the car to a stop in order to help mitigate the force of an impact.
Standard Active Cruise Control
This helps the driver maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front, down to very low speeds. Once the way ahead is clear, the LS automatically and smoothly accelerates to its pre-set cruising speed.
Lane Keep Assist & Lane Departure Warning
Lexus' advanced Lane Keep Assist is designed to recognise when the vehicle is deviating from its lane. It helps the driver steer the vehicle safely back to its correct path, automatically providing steering inputs to keep the car within its lane, operating at very low vehicle speeds.
Lane Departure Alert (LDA) uses a camera on the windscreen to track the vehicle's course between lane markings painted on the road surface. If it judges that the vehicle is about to move out of its lane without the indicator being used, the system lights an indicator on the multi-information display and sounds the warning buzzer. It will also apply appropriate steering control force to help bring the vehicle back on course.
The system also includes a Vehicle Sway Warning function. This monitors the car's position in its lane and the driver's steering inputs. If it detects degrees of vehicle swaying, it will sound an alert and display a warning on the multi-information display, recommending the driver takes a break.
Adaptive High-beam System
The Adaptive High-beam System (AHS) provides automatic switching of LS' Bi-LED headlamps for low and high beam.
LS has eight LED lights at the top and 16 below (on each side) and the AHS provides optimal lighting through separate on/off control of each row of LEDs, enabling finer control of light strength and distance compared with the current LED-based AHS. It allows for greater use of high-beam driving without blinding preceding or oncoming vehicles, thus improving night-time visibility.
Additionally, new LS has multi-weather lamps, to reduce the glare experienced by the driver when light is projected forward while driving in fog at night and still provide sufficient light in front of the vehicle.
The low-beam focal aim is lowered by a tenth of a degree to keep projected light from scattering and the cornering lamps are turned on at 70 per cent light distribution to illuminate the area directly in front of the vehicle.
The Lexus LS 500 retails for R2 141 400. Furthermore, Lexus has expanded the customer care for which it is renowned, announcing a best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. The vehicle service intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.