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Geneva show: Lexus LS set to go hybrid

Swiss roll: Geneva will host the global launch of the new hybrid Lexus limo, the LS500h, that, unlike the current V8-based petrol-electric LS, is expected to employ a V6 in tandem with an electric motor.

Hybrid Lexus LS500h confirmed for Australia from launch in early 2018

Lexus logo15 Feb 2017

By RON HAMMERTON

LEXUS has confirmed it will unveil the hybrid version of its all-new fifth-generation LS limousine at the Geneva motor show on March 7.

Interestingly, Toyota’s luxury car arm describes the petrol-electric LS500h as its flagship, even though Lexus executives gave hints at the 2015 Tokyo motor show – where the big sedan was previewed as the LF-FC concept – that a hydrogen fuel-cell variant was on the cards for the new model that is scheduled to land in Australia in early 2018.

The debut of the LS500h comes three months after the petrol LS500 was unveiled at the Detroit motor show. Both versions have now been confirmed for Australia from launch.

The LS500 gets a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 producing 310kW of power and 600Nm of torque and driving the rear wheels via a world-first 10-speed automatic transmission. This blown V6 replaces the current generation’s 4.6-litre V8 that produces 285kW/493Nm.

Lexus is holding back details of the hybrid powertrain, but most pundits expect it to involve a petrol V6 – probably normally aspirated – combined with an electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries.

Some have suggested that this driveline might be lifted from the all-new LC coupe that, in LC500h form, generates 264kW and 348Nm. Called a Multi Stage Hybrid System, the powertrain gets a four-speed stepped transmission for the first time.

The current hybrid LS, the LS600h, combines a 5.0-litre V8 with an electric motor and continuously variable transmission (CVT). It produces 327kW of power.

LC is due in Australia in May, about 10 months ahead of the long-wheelbase LS which shares its underpinnings, including a common GA-L (Global Architecture Luxury) platform.

However, the LS will not share the LC’s 351kW/530Nm 5.0-litre V8, instead opting for more fuel-efficient powertrains.

As always with LS, emphasis has been on refinement, with turbulence-cutting flush-fitting side windows and road-noise reducing hollow-rim alloy wheels being two areas of improvement this time around.

Lexus Australia product public relations and events manager Nick Raman told GoAuto today that the LS500 and LS500h were expected to arrive simultaneously in Australia when the LS hit local showrooms early next year.

He confirmed that no V8 version was expected.

Asked about the mooted hydrogen fuel-cell version as showcased in the LF-FC concept, he said that version remained a concept, and was not slated for production in the foreseeable future.

Current LS pricing starts at $185,980 plus on-road costs for the LS460 F Sport and tops out at $245,140 for the LS600h Sports Luxury.

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