MOTORING: First look at luxury Lexus

It was a case of ‘‘look, touch and talk about it’’ but driving the newest big Lexus was not on the agenda. That will come later, closer to the car’s February national launch.

So what is all the fuss about?

Well, Lexus has never been backward in coming forward, at least not where its LS is concerned. After all, Lexus served it up to Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi when it made its local debut in 1990 and, while the others have caught up in most areas (with the possible exception of pricing), LS has continued to be a thorn in their collective sides.

So what of the coming car? The numbers, if nothing else, are astounding and some of the technological wizardry borders on sheer overkill, but when it comes to ownership boasting rights, it will be hard to top this one.

For starters, 50 per cent of the car’s components have either been redesigned, re-engineered or replaced, with the changes translating to about 3000 (that’s 3-0-0-0 and not a misprint) mechanical and component changes, including four claimed world firsts and 13 Lexus firsts. How does a clock that  matches the world’s official time zones sound?

The car’s debut early next year will also mark the arrival of the company’s most powerful F Sport model, the new short-wheelbase LS 600h F Sport with a 5.0-litre V8 engine, hybrid drive with a combined 327 kilowatts, and all-wheel drive.

The 4.6-litre V8 engines used for the non-hybrid cars are not exactly modest in output either, with 285 kilowatts of power and 493 Newton metres of torque developed at 6400 rpm and 4100 rpm respectively.

Lexus says engineering changes across the LS range have increased driving dynamics and overall refinement while cutting overall noise, vibration and harshness. It should come as no surprise, then, that the new LS is officially the quietest car in its class.

Sheet-metal changes are extensive, with the doors and roof panel the only carry-over items from the present car. The new look brings the LS interpretation of the corporate spindle grille and the aerodynamic package is almost obsessive, with tiny spoilers engineered into such diverse areas as the rear-view mirror housings and tail-light lenses.

Inside, the car gets a new dashboard, and a complete re-work of the interior design improves usability and visual appeal.

The display screen for sat-nav, audio and the like is now, at 312 millimetres, the biggest of its type in any car, and the operating systems have been simplified, a welcome move away from what has seemed like years of ongoing complications by car makers. 

Even the console-mounted systems controller has been styled to emulate a computer mouse.

Lexus Australia chief executive, Tony Cramb, said the new LS range was proof of Lexus’s desire for continual improvement.

‘‘When Lexus launched its first LS in 1989, it redefined what was expected from a luxury vehicle,’’ he said. ‘‘In 2007, Lexus was named the world’s best luxury vehicle and in 2012 we’ve made the world’s best even better.’’ 

When the car goes on sale here in February, it will be available in three guises, LS460 Sports Luxury, LS460 F Sport, and LS600h F Sport, all built on the standard 2970mm wheelbase. A long-wheelbase variant, the LS 600hL, will be available to special order.

WHAT IT COSTS 

LEXUS LS460 and LS600h: 

Lexus LS460 F Sport: $189,900

Lexus 460 Sports Luxury: $192,400 

LS600h F Sport: $217,900 

LS 600h long wheelbase: POA 

Prices do not include on-road costs

WHAT IT’S GOT

LS460: 4.6-litre V8 with double-overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, four valves per cylinder and dual variable valve timing. 285 kilowatts at 6400 rpm, 493 Newton metres at 4100 rpm.

LS600: 5.0-litre V8 with double overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, four valves per cylinder and dual variable valve timing plus AC synchronous electric motor. 327 kilowatts (combined) at 6400 rpm, 520 Newton metres at 4000 rpm.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop