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Geneva show: Lexus delivers new hybrid limo

Spin cycle: Lexus says the hi-tech new LS500h, which is unabashed about its smaller engine and lower output compared to the current LS600h V8 hybrid, is designed to “capture the imagination of forward-thinking, younger customers”.

New-generation Lexus LS500h premieres ahead of Australian launch early next year


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8 Mar 2017

LEXUS unveiled its new-generation LS500h hybrid at the Geneva motor show overnight, confirming that the petrol-electric flagship sedan has downsized from a V8-based system to a V6 using the multi-stage hybrid system introduced with the LC coupe version last year.

Scheduled to go on sale in Australia early next year alongside the conventionally powered LS500 – which uses the same 3456cc 24-valve dual-VVT-i engine, but with twin turbochargers pushing power out to 310kW – the hybrid version forgoes the two turbos for a twin set of electric motors that help produce a total system output of 264kW.

Lexus has not posted environmental figures for the LS hybrid, leaving the equivalent LC model – which can deliver combined-cycle fuel economy of 6.4 litres per 100km and 145g/km of CO2 emissions – as the closest reference point, although the sedan is bigger and heavier than the coupe, available only in long-wheelbase guise and will be sold exclusively in Europe as an all-wheel-drive model.

Australian specifications are still to be confirmed, but a rear-wheel-drive version has also been developed for the LS500h, which in Lexus lexicon aims to “capture the imagination of forward-thinking, younger customers”.

As with the LC hybrid, the LS version drives through a four-speed automatic transmission developed specifically for this hybrid application – Lexus promises that its simulated shift control pattern “delivers the feel of driving with a 10-speed gearbox” (10 being the number of ratios in its twin-turbo LS500 stablemate) – and the vehicle can reach 100km/h from standstill in a claimed 5.4 seconds.

This figure adds some weight to the manufacturer’s claim that the hybrid limousine is rewarding to drive, with strong acceleration that is said to be as inherent as the powertrain’s fuel and emissions efficiency.

Lexus also emphasises that the gearbox allows for high-speed cruising at lower engine revs, and that the green LS is capable of running at up to 140km/h with the petrol engine shut off.

An ‘M’ mode also enables the driver to select and hold gears manually using paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel.

The petrol engine produces 220kW of power and 350Nm of torque and the twin electric motors combine with a 310-volt lithium-ion battery that is said to be 20 per cent smaller than the nickel-metal hybrid unit in the outgoing LS600h, bringing a variety of benefits including more luggage space (+25 litres compared to the current model), reduced weight and a higher power density.

The LS600h is currently priced from $214,030 in F Sport guise, or $245,140 at the Sports Luxury grade.

The 5.0-litre V8 engine and electric motor combo provides a total system output of 327kW and returns fuel economy of 8.6L/100km on the Australian-standard combined cycle. It can reach 100km/h in a claimed 5.7s.

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