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The updated version of the brand’s flagship sedan maintains the overall visual signature of its predecessor, with the addition of new driver assist tech and a special paint scheme
Lexus has showcased the newest iteration of its LS flagship sedan, a continuation of its fifth generation architecture (which debuted in 2017) and announced that sales in Japan begin late 2020. For this latest update, Lexus says its focus was on elevating the sedan's levels of comfort, lowering NVH and overall refinement, along with updating key facets of the predecessor's mechanical bits as well as its electronic suite (with both passive and active safety features).
This represents what the brand calls its DNA, which emphasises thorough craftsmanship on even the smallest component― from the vehicle's powertrain and suspension to even the positioning of the stitch points of the seats. So what exactly is 'new' in the 2020 Lexus LS? Read on to find out!
At first glance
A big change to the front is the inclusion of the BladeScan. Somewhat similar to the adaptive headlights in the Mercedes-Benz GLE 400, the Bladescan system constantly monitors the area in front of the car, illuminating obscure areas like the kerb, pedestrians on the shoulder, and road signs. It also alters both the direction and intensity of the overall illumination so as not to blind oncoming road users, and does this without the inclusion of additional lighting elements. The colour of the grille mesh around the BladeScan module has been changed to a more striking dark metallic.
In the F Sport version of the new LS, the garnish of the sub-radiator grilles wraps around to the sides so as to underline the vehicle's wide stance. Other elements to accentuate the F Sport's more dynamic image include a dedicated colour for the spindle grille and 20-inch wheels.
At the rear, the chrome trim within the rear combination lamps has been switched to Piano Black to better match the headlamps.
Lexus has long devoted much effort to the development of silver paint finishes. Hence, the new exterior body panel colour Gin-ei Lustre is applied using the Sonic Method, which condenses the paint volume of paint containing radiant material (aluminium flakes) applied by means of evaporation coating, spread over surfaces in high density. With a smooth, mirror-like texture, the new paint scheme creates a lustrous colour which, as Lexus says, sparkles under every light condition.
Under the skin
A smooth ride quality is the cornerstone of a luxury vehicle. To that end, the newly developed Adaptive Variable Suspension solenoid reduces damping force, while the vertical spring rate (stiffness) of the run-flat tires and the rigidity of the stabiliser bars further minimises body roll during sudden changes in direction. Also, the orifice inside the engine mounts has been changed so as to alter damping characteristics, resulting in a reduction in vibrations transmitted to the vehicle's cabin, leading to a supple ride.
Moving now to the drivetrain, and the predecessor’s 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol, delivering 409bhp, still does duty in the LS500. However, it now boasts improved initial engine torque at often-used driving speeds, leading to greater acceleration response. Improved shift timing and a wider acceleration range for each gear of the now fabled 10-speed ‘box has resulted in less frequent downshifts. These improvements make possible driving that is powerful and with room to spare.
Similarly, the 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 coupled with the twin electric motors in the LS 500h hybrid (combined output of 350bhp) now gets increased battery assist during acceleration at often-used driving speeds so as to contribute to strain-free acceleration.
Additionally, overall engine quietness has been improved in both versions of the new LS by employing Active Noise Control (where a microphone is used to identify and reduce muffled engine sounds by outputting an opposite-phase sound from the speakers into the cabin), as well as by lowering maximum engine revolutions during departure acceleration.
As with its predecessor, there has been no sea change when considering the quality or arrangement of the interiors. That said, the controls on the steering wheel and centre console have been uniformly coloured black, for improved visibility and a clear-cut impression. Also, a switch for displaying on the touch display the controls for the heated seats and steering wheel has been added to the centre console for improved operability.
The overall sense of comfort is all-pervading, with the seat coverings now featuring deeper stitch points, and underlying seat pads packing low-resilience urethane, for better vibration absorption and enhanced comfort.
The multimedia system features a new touch display and is compatible with Smart Device Link, Apple CarPlay 4, and Android Auto 5, with the ability to control the display screen and audio functions by using an iPhone and Android smartphone linked to the 12.3-inch touch-operated wide display.
Moving now to the single biggest change, which is the inclusion of the Lexus Teammate, the brand’s driving assistance tech which incorporates AI technologies centred on deep learning for predicting and responding to various situations possibly encountered during driving. The system takes care of everything from keeping in the same lane to maintaining distance from vehicles up ahead to even somewhat more complex manoeuvres such as overtaking other vehicles (although only on car-only highways).
The system is engineered to prioritise safety, freeing the driver from operating the accelerator, brakes, and steering. This, coupled with the digital rearview mirror with a large high-resolution display for improved visibility of the area behind the vehicle, go a long way in reducing overall fatigue on long drives.
And when the drive is done and it’s time to park, the Lexus Teammate also includes the latest advanced parking assist tech in its suite, supporting all operations – steering, acceleration, braking, and gear changes – via integrated cameras and ultrasonic sensors, as well as a bird's-eye view display showing the ideal steering wheel positions for an easy parking experience.
Lexus International President Koji Sato: "The LS, as a flagship, has constantly pursued innovation and has provided new technologies and value for its customers. In developing the new LS, we furthered the evolution of the exceptional quietness and comfort that has been a steadfast constant since the model's first generation, and, by employing the advanced driving assist technologies of Lexus Teammate, we aimed for a mobility experience that is much safer and more secured than before.”
The Lexus LS is sold in India only in its hybrid LS 500h iteration, which has been on sale here for over two years now and is in the need for an update. Now considering the current model is priced at Rs 1.82 crore (ex-showroom), we’d expect its successor, which may come to India sometime by the middle of 2021, to be priced closer to Rs 2 crore, and go up against the top-end variants of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series and Audi A8.