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Lexus unleashes latest limo

Green luxury: The latest, upgraded hybrid Lexus LS600hL limo is $9000 cheaper, thanks to tariff cuts.

Self-healing paint and cleaner-burning V8 improves the breed for Lexus’ 2010 LS600hL

9 Mar 2010

IT MADE its global debut at the Frankfurt motor show last September and now Lexus’s hybrid-powered luxury limousine has been released Down Under.

The 2010 model-year LS600hL is now on sale in Australia with the same upgrades fitted to the European version, and comes with a $9000-lower pricetag of $243,900.

Also outpacing the $1100 price reduction for the upgraded LS460 ($199,900) released in December, the four-seat version of the 2010 LS600hL ($250,900) commands the same $7000 premium as before but also lands with a $9000 price cut as a result of this year’s five per cent federal import tariff reduction.

As previously reported, upgrades include a Euro 5 emissions-compliant version of the long-wheelbase sedan’s Lexus Hybrid Drive system, plus redesigned seating, new equipment, more compact hybrid battery packaging that liberates an extra 40 litres of boot space and improvements to comfort and driving dynamics.

The revised LS’ hybrid drivetrain now includes an ‘Eco’ driving mode that delivers “efficiency-adjusted throttle response and air conditioning performance”, while the air-conditioning system automatically selects air recirculation mode to reduce power consumption when the outside temperature is 20°C or higher.

However, key performance figures from the cleaner-burning 5.0-litre petrol V8, which combines with a 165kW electric motor to produce a peak output of 327kW, remain unchanged, including 0-100km/h acceleration in a claimed 6.3 seconds, combined-cycle fuel consumption of 9.3L/100km and CO2 emissions of 219g/km.

31 center imageLexus says that repackaging of the full hybrid system’s battery into two sections of six and 14 modules has reduced its overall size, liberating an extra 40 litres of boot space.

A new laptop-style full-colour TFT LCD display screen is the centrepiece of a revised instrument binnacle, which houses a new meter design featuring three analogue dials: a central speedometer, a tachometer and coolant temperature gauge to the left and a fuel gauge and hybrid system indicator to the right.

As with the LS600hL’s key limousine rivals in the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8, Mercedes-Benz S-class and Jaguar’s upcoming XJ flagship, a display in the centre of the speedo can be customised to display trip computer, navigation or hybrid system information.

For 2010, the car’s upper air-vents have been set apart from the instrumentation on the centre console to give the dashboard more horizontal emphasis, while the multi-display touch screen has large switches and a rearranged sound system layout. and the audio switchgear has a new metallic finish.

New seating features comprise front seats that are equipped with new, inflator-operated active head restraints, which are activated by a signal from the airbag ECU in the event of a rear impact.

New adjustable head restraints are also fitted to both outboard rear seating positions, which come with increased side bolstering to offer a 10mm increase in hip support. They can fold inward “to caress the passenger's head and neck, (and) provide greater support”.

Four-seat models will also gain 40mm of leg room on the passenger side when the front seat is in the fully-forward position.

A redesigned rear-seat entertainment package, which now comprises a new slim-line, flip-down roof-mounted rear DVD screen, is said to offer greater rear vision for the driver.

There are no other changes to the 19-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System, which returns 7.1-channel surround sound on selected CDs and DVDs and comprises a USB connection for fully controlled use of some portable music players via the touch screen.

The 2010 LS600hL is visually differentiated by a new four-bar grille, a redesigned front bumper with new air-intakes and foglights, new headlights finished in Lexus’s trademark hybrid blue hue, a new one-piece rocker moulding and new door mirrors incorporating twin LED turn signals, puddle lamps and chrome highlights.

At the rear, there is a new lower rear bumper design with vertical fins, while the 2010 LS600hL also brings the debut of the Toyota luxury brand’s new ‘Self-Restoring Coat’ paint treatment, which Lexus says helps maintain a superb finish over the vehicle's lifetime.

2010 Lexus LS600hL sedan range pricing:
LS600hL (a) $243,900
LS600hL five-seat (a) $250,000

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