Published — Thursday 3 January 2013
Last update 2 January 2013 10:59 pm
Generations of the LS have inspired an entire industry through visionary innovation, craftsmanship and design. And for 2013, the most technologically advanced Lexus ever has a new face and an all-new F SPORT model.
We drove through central Japan with Hideki Watanabe. With the Chief Engineer at the wheel of the LS 460, we talked design and technology.
Our story didn’t mention, however, that Watanabe had something else on his mind. His true focus was the future shape of the next LS launching worldwide in 2012. This car, he now tells us, is the best of the best. Ultimate refinement.
“It’s our flagship,” he says, “the most profound statement that can be made about our brand. And we were obsessive in its development. For example, a car of this nature comprises around 6,000 main parts. We improved about 3,000 of them - from the feel of the trunk-lid switch to the entire dashboard.” Here are just a few of a great many delights offered by the new LS.
As expected, the car bears the assertive new face of Lexus — the spindle grille, set low and with a wide, chrome-plated frame of peerless quality. It’s a configuration, underscored by the broad hood that promises grounded solidity and self-assured power. When equipped with the optional three projector LED headlamp unit, the LS offers all LED exterior lighting, including turn signals and fog lamps, which is a first for Lexus.
The LS stands on 18- or 19-inch noise-reducing wheels that are available with a head-turning finish. Inside, the dashboard is divided into two distinct zones: an upper Display Zone, with the large, 12.3-inch, LCD multi-display screen, and a lower Operation Zone, which allows access to system controls. An extra touch of exclusivity, meanwhile, is a new Shimamoku trim option — Shimamoku is an artful synthetic stripe woodgrain pattern that takes 38 days to produce.
Power that matches presence:
The new look of the 2013 LS makes a bold statement, and what's under the hood truly backs it up. The direct-injected 4.6-liter, 386-hp V8 engine pairs with an eight-speed automatic transmission on a more agile platform to deliver an invigorating blend of acceleration, seamless shifting, control and fuel efficiency.
The new, optional Climate Concierge uses multiple sensors to automatically regulate not only the cabin temperature, but also the climate control seats and heated steering wheel. The Advanced Illumination System (AIS) also shines: this LED interior lighting illuminates to greet occupants and then fades with the vehicle starting procedure.
Safety sets new standards. New to the LS is the Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The vehicle also includes the Advanced Pre-Collision System (APCS) with Collision Avoidance Assist: at speeds below 24 miles per hour, it helps the LS avoid accidents by automatically bringing the car to a full stop. There’s also an upgraded, optional Lane-Keep Assist system (LKA) that helps the driver stay in the intended lane.
Sporty acceleration, and even more precise steering and brake responses, Watanabe says, move the LS into new, emotionally satisfying territory. Drive Mode Select plays a key role by allowing for three drive settings (ECO, NORMAL, and SPORT S); LS models equipped with the available air suspension add COMFORT and SPORT S+ modes.
The LS 460 and LS 460 L are available in RWD and AWD, while the LS Hybrid has full-time AWD. In the LS 600h L, the Lexus Hybrid Drive system combines a 5.0-liter V8 engine and high-performance electric motor that together yield 6.0-liter V12 performance — with 3.0-liter V6 efficiencies.
Finally, all models have been given increased body rigidity to enhance stability and deliver an even more comfortable ride.