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Frankfurt show: Lexus upgrades LS, IS F

White on: Lexus has developed more compact batteries for its flagship LS600h in a revision revealed at the Frankfurt motor show.

Lexus improves LS600h hybrid system – and adds an LSD to IS F

Lexus logo18 Sep 2009

By TERRY MARTIN

ALTHOUGH the all-new LF-Ch compact car was the star attraction at the Lexus stand at the Frankfurt motor show this week, the prestige arm of Toyota Motor Corporation also reasserted its hybrid dominance with the debut of its revised LS600h torchbearer.

It also presented an updated IS series, which adds a limited-slip differential to the IS F sports sedan and introduces a new F-Sport exterior package for regular IS models.

Due on sale in Australia in the first half of 2010, the Model Year 2010 LS600h has received a number of improvements including more compact hybrid battery packaging, powertrain modifications to meet Euro 5 emissions standards, and a new ‘ECO’ mode for the hybrid drive system, which modifies the throttle action and performance of the air-conditioning in the quest for more fuel-efficient driving.

The Lexus flagship also picks up revised exterior styling, an interior upgrade, better brakes and an automatic headlight dip switch system, which can detect oncoming traffic, streetlights and vehicles travelling ahead and move from high to low beam accordingly.

31 center imageThe Lexus Hybrid Drive System’s output and fundamental elements remain unchanged, with the 5.0-litre direct-injection quad-cam V8 petrol engine continuing to produce 290kW at 6400rpm and 520Nm at 4000rpm, combining with a 650-volt 165kW/300Nm electric motor for a total power output of 327kW.

Restricted to long-wheelbase form in Australia, the 2.4-tonne LS600hL can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds and return an impressive (for such a large vehicle laden with luxurious appointments) 9.3L/100km. It emits 219g/km of CO2.

None of these figures are expected to change with the MY10 LS upgrade, with Lexus advising that the upgrade to Euro 5 has not affected the LS600h’s performance.

Repackaging of the hybrid system’s battery into two sections of six and 14 modules has reduced its overall size and freed up more luggage space in the boot, addressing a criticism of the current model. At present, the battery restricts luggage volume in the $200,000-plus long-wheelbase limousine to 330 litres.

Meanwhile, Lexus explains that the ‘ECO’ mode automatically controls the relationship between movement of the accelerator pedal and the system output, reducing response to aggressive inputs to improve fuel economy and promote smoother driving. The load on the engine is also reduced under acceleration, which further helps reduce fuel consumption.

When the outside temperature is 20 degrees Celsius or higher, the air-conditioning system now automatically moves to recirculation mode to reduce power consumption. The fan airflow is also reduced when set to “high” to further cut the amount of power used.

Working with brake specialist Brembo, Lexus has improved the LS’s braking performance with new, larger ventilated front disc brakes – now 380mm diameter (up from 357mm) – and six-piston callipers (up from four). While the rear rotors remain at 335mm diameter, with two-piston callipers, new brake pads front and rear are designed for quieter performance with less vibration and increased stopping power.

Visual cues to the upgrade include a new four-bar grille and a front bumper with redesigned air intakes and foglamps. The lower bumper has vertical fins to smooth the airflow from the undercarriage, the door mirrors incorporate twin LED turn signals and puddle lamps, and the headlamps have a new ‘running light’ design finished in Lexus ‘hybrid blue’.

New exterior colours include Mesa Red, Vanilla Mist, Richmond Green and Atlantic Blue.

Inside, the instrument binnacle has been redesigned around a new full-colour ‘TFT’ LCD display.

The upper air vents are also now set apart from the instrumentation on the dash stack, and the central touch-screen has larger switchgear and a rearranged format for the audio controls.

The front seats are also now equipped with new inflator-operative active headrests. According to Lexus, the inflator is activated by a signal from the airbag ECU in the event of a rear impact. It slides a piston into the headrest, unlocking a mechanism that projects the headrest forwards and upwards, thereby reducing the risk of whiplash injury.

Furthermore, the driver’s seat has a new return/away function, automatically sliding the seat back by up to 50mm when the driver unbuckles the seatbelt and turns the engine off. The seat returns to its selected driving position when the car is restarted.

With the use of a limited-slip differential in the IS F, Lexus claims the 5.0-litre V8-powered sports sedan – which is otherwise unchanged – can attain a higher level of performance, such as shaving two seconds off a lap around the Fuji International Speedway.

The company said that replacing the conventional differential with a compact Torsen LSD, which can withstand high torque loads and automatically diverts drive to the rear wheel with the most grip, has produced a “significant increase in traction and stability in high-speed cornering”.

A new Fuji White interior colour scheme, with a blue leather bottom section for the steering wheel, is also now available on the IS F, along with a new buffed-finish 19-inch alloy wheel design and Ultra Blue mica exterior paint finish.

The F-Sport package on the mainstream IS models comprises an IS F-style front grille, rear spoiler and ‘exclusive’ 18-inch alloy wheels.

Interior features include IS F-style seats, steering wheel and gearlever. Black headlining and grey stitching on the front seats and steering wheel also serve to complement the black-on-black cabin colour scheme.

As GoAuto reported earlier this month, Lexus has also updated its GS series with a revised exterior design that emphasises the hybrid GS450h, plus upgraded safety equipment, revised audio and navigation systems and a revised colour range.

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