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Sports class: Lexus has given its flagship a set of running shoes, in the Lexus LS460 Sports.

LS460 Sports heads an upgraded flagship sedan line-up from Lexus

8 Dec 2009

LEXUS has completed a trifecta of 2010 model upgrades by releasing a facelifted LS sedan range headlined by a new LS460 Sports variant.

The upgraded sedan flagship was first revealed at the Frankfurt motor show in September, alongside the 2010 IS medium sedan, which arrived in Australia the same month, the 2010 GS large sedan, which was released here in October.

While the top-shelf Lexus four-door brings a host of styling and chassis updates, the surprise new Sports derivative delivers the biggest advances for the Toyota luxury brand’s flag bearing sedan.

Inspired by the F-Sport line available from Lexus in other markets, the LS460 Sports wears a unique bodykit comprising a black weave grille, front spoiler, side rocker mouldings and unique 20-spoke 19-inch forged alloy wheels.

While the Sports comes with the same 280kW/493Nm 4.6-litre petrol V8 as the standard LS460 – as well as its $199,900 pricetag, which is $1100 lower than before – its lower, wider stance is backed by a sports-tuned transmission and chassis.

Apart from coming with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters for the first time, the LS’s eight-speed automatic transmission mimics the full lock-up feature of the IS F sports sedan’s similar gearbox by performing upshifts in a little as 0.3 seconds and downshifts in 0.2 seconds.

As in the IS F, the latter are accompanied by an automatic throttle blipping function to match the engine and gearbox speeds in M mode, while D mode remains fully automatic.

31 center imageThe LS460 Sports also features retuned air suspension with upgraded anti-roll bars that are claimed to deliver a firmer ride with reduced bodyroll, while an all-new Brembo braking package includes six-piston callipers and 380mm diameter rotors up front and 334mm discs clamped by four-piston callipers at rear.

The non-Sports LS460 continues to come with four-piston callipers and 357mm discs up front and twin-piston callipers with 335mm rotors at rear.

Inside, the LS460 Sports offers new front seats with revised thigh, hip and shoulder areas to improve lateral support.

Lexus Australia chief executive John Roca said that with the introduction of IS F last year, Lexus had increasingly been asked about sportier versions of its vehicles.

“LS460 Sports is an answer to those questions,” he said. “(The) LS460 Sports will appeal to those that want a comfortable tourer with a sporting kick.” The rest of the 2010 LS line-up, meantime, brings a number of visual and technical upgrades.

Leading the cosmetic change are new front and rear bumpers, a fresh grille and redesigned wing mirrors with integrated turn signals.

The headlights and tail-lights have also been revised, with the former now underlined by LED daytime running lights and latter featuring a new combination lamp design.

Retuned air suspension for all models is claimed to improve turn-in response, while Lexus says a new interior ‘Eco’ mode reduces the power necessary to run the air-conditioning system.

Also aimed at reducing fuel consumption is an indicator bar “to notify the driver whether or not they are operating the accelerator in a fuel efficient way”.

The 2010 LS cabin is highlighted by a new centre stack with new switchgear and chrome highlights, while the LS finally also gains USB audio capability, allowing portable music players to be controlled by the touch navigation screen.

Perhaps even more significant, however, is the fitment for the first time in any Lexus model of a one-touch indicator function. While the Japanese maker has been tardy in offering the now common convenience feature, the LS goes one up on rival systems by being programmable – it can be set to flash three, five, seven or nine times.

There is also for the driver’s seat to aid ingress/egress, a redesigned slimline rear-seat entertainment screen that reduces the driver’s rear-view obstruction and comes with wireless rear headphones, and new rear-seat massagers and head restraints with adjustable side supports.

The latter two additions are unavailable on the new LS460 Sports model, which comes with a slightly larger boot than the regular LS460 (and the LS600hL hybrid), because it doesn’t not feature quad-zone climate control.

All 2010 LS sedans will be available in 10 exterior paint colours, four of which (Lapis Lazuli, Vermillion, Sleek Ecru and Deep Peridot) are new, and all of which are covered with a new scratch-resistant clear coating that’s said to minimise general wear and tear and light scratch damage.

While the short-wheelbase LS460 and LS460 Sports are available now, first examples of the long-wheelbase LS600hL – the world’s only full hybrid vehicle in the premium luxury sedan segment – won’t arrive here until the first quarter of next year.

As with the 2010 LS460, pricing is expected to fall slightly as a result of the five per cent drop in federal import duty. The outgoing LS600hL is priced at $252,900 for the five-seat version and $259,900 for the four-seater.

As revealed at Frankfurt, the 2010 LS hybrid will come with the same upgrades as the rest of the 2010 limousine range (including the 460 Sports’ Brembo brakes).

There is also a new Lexus Rear Seat Relaxation Pack, a 35-litre larger boot thanks to a more compact rear air-conditioning unit and enhancements to the vehicle’s Lexus Hybrid Drive system, which features and more compact battery packaging and meets the Euro 5 emissions standard.

2010 Lexus LS460 Sports sedan pricing:
LS460 Sports (a) $199,900

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