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Driven: Lexus slices $50k from LS hybrid flagship

It’s back: With the arrival of the all-new fifth-generation LS, Lexus has restored the luxury limousine to its Australian range after a year in hiatus.

All-new Lexus LS limousine undercuts luxury rivals while packing more bling


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10 Apr 2018

LEXUS Australia has slashed prices of hybrid variants of its flagship LS sedan by up to $50,000 with the introduction this week of the all-new bigger, sleeker fifth-generation limousine that can lay claim to being the most advanced and luxurious car ever issued from Japan.

At the same time, Toyota’s premium brand has raised the prices of its petrol-only LS variants by about $4500 to bring the petrol and hybrid prices into alignment in a first for upper large luxury sedan.

The petrol LS500 and petrol-electric hybrid LS500h both now start at $190,500 plus on-road costs for the sports-oriented F Sport specification, stepping up $5000 to $195,500 for the more luxurious Sports Luxury level.

Although that means the price of entry to the LS range has gone up from $185,980 to $190,500, the most expensive variant is now $195,500, rather than $245,140, which was the previous ask for the hybrid LS600h Sports Luxury.

However, if customers want more bling such as cut-glass ornamentation (really) on their LS Sports Luxury, they can opt for one of four hand-crafted packages that add almost $10,000 to the bottom line.

Despite a huge array of luxurious features that even include passenger seats offering ottoman leg rests and seven massage functions with hot-spot heat treatment in the Sports Luxury, the LS pricing starts and finishes below the most affordable of its major rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (from $195,500), BMW 7 Series ($226,900), Audi A8 ($198,855) and Jaguar XJ ($210,120).

Launching the new LS in Tasmania, Lexus Australia chief executive Scott Thompson said the latest Lexus flagship broke new ground in the luxury segment.

“The new Lexus flagship is destined to repeat LS history as a car that redefines and advances automotive luxury expectations and customer satisfaction,” he said.

“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 brands represents – a luxury lifestyle brand that offers amazing experiences.”

The LS has been almost invisible in Australia for about a year as Lexus – and its customers who have been eyeing the new model after its unveiling a year ago in Detroit – effectively pulled the shutters down on the old unit.

The latest LS is a ground-up development, developed jointly with the Lexus LC sports coupe that was launched in Australia in June last year.

The two models share the innovative light-weight Global Architecture Luxury platform and other technologies such as the new hybrid powertrain.

But while the LC gets V8 power in its hi-po version, the big LS gets more fuel-efficient 3.5-litre V6 engines in both the petrol and hybrid powertrains.

In the case of the petrol LS500, the all-new twin-turbo V6 produces 310kW of power and 600Nm of torque, which is more power and torque than the 285kW/493Nm 4.6-litre normally aspirated V8 it replaces.

Bolted on to a class-first 10-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels, this engine shifts the 2.2-tonne behemoth from zero to 100km/h in 5.0 seconds – 0.9s quicker than before – while consuming a claimed 9.5 litres of premium unleaded per 100km – down from the V8’s 10.7L/100km.

The hybrid LS500h borrows its hybrid powertrain from the LC sportscar, combining a 220kW/350Nm normally aspirated V6 with a 132kW/300Nm electric motor to power the rear wheels via a multi-stage continuously variable transmission (CVT).

Combined power peaks at 264kW, which represents a drop of 16kW over the previous LS600hL hybrid with its 4.6-litre V8. However, the new LS500 is not only quicker to 100km/h (5.4s versus 6.3s) but also less thirsty (6.6L/100km versus 8.6L/100km).

For the first time, the LS hybrid stores its electricity in a lithium-ion battery rather than a nickel-metal hydride unit, saving 20 per cent of space to free up more room in the boot.

At 5235mm long, 1900mm wide and 1450mm tall, the new LS is longer (+25mm), wider (+25mm) and lower (-15mm) than the previous long-wheelbase version. The previous model was produced in two wheelbase lengths, but the new car sits on a single 3125mm base, which is 35mm longer than the previous stretch version.

The roof line has been dropped by employing a sunroof that slides outside the roof, instead of inside it, allowing the designers to give the roof line a more sporty, coupe-style profile without losing rear-seat headroom.

The unique body construction that blends aluminium with steel with a number of world-first fixing techniques helps to endow the LS with the lowest centre of gravity in its class.

All LS variants ride on adaptive air suspension and 20-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tyres, but the sportier F Sport gets wider rear wheels and tyres, while the luxurious Sports Luxury has noise-dissipating alloys.

The F Sport – distinguished by black exterior items such as the grille, sill trims and brake callipers – also gets high-performance brakes, variable gear-ratio steering, dynamic rear steering and active stabiliser bars.

The Sports Luxury has four-zone climate control with rear cooler, 22-way power rear seats with ottoman leg rests and seven massage programs, and DVD entertainment for rear-seat passengers who can stretch out in lay-back seats with 86mm more legroom than before.

Up front, the front seats have 28-way electric adjustment – including adjustable pneumatic padding – while the all-digital dash features a 12.3-inch multi-media screen, the biggest head-up display in the business and Mark Levinson audio system with 23 speakers.

The leather-clad front and rear seats are heated, while the front pews also have ventilation.

Headlights have the latest adaptive technology, and the doors and boot close electrically.

2018 Lexus LS range pricing*
LS500 F Sport (a)$190,500
LS500 Sports Luxury (a)$195,500
LS500h F Sport (a)$190,500
LS500h Sports Luxury (a) $195,500
*Excludes on-road costs

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