Words: Calvin Chan
Published: January 10, 2017
Lexus wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the original LS 400, the luxury sedan that launched the brand into stardom 28 years ago with its smooth and dependable powertrain, phenomenal build quality and above all, unprecedented comfort.
After a long wait, Lexus is back at it again with the launch of their fifth-generation LS at the 2017 North American International Auto Show. It’s longer, lower, and wider than before, punching out a sleek coupe-like image that falls in line with its other chic brethren, the GS and IS sedans. The spindle grill makes a welcome but controversial entrance to the front grill, as do the taillights shaped like the ones found in the LC 500 Coupe. An F Sport package has yet to be announced, though it would surely be a missed opportunity if Lexus decided to skip out on it for their flagship.
Lexus says the new LS is more rigid than ever before with an extensive use of aluminum, shaving off nearly 100 kg from the outgoing model. It also rides on a new rear-wheel drive platform, the same one in the LC 500 but stretched out to accommodate the luxury sedan’s proportions. An air suspension is also available for easier ingress and egress.
The big news here is what lies under the hood. Gone is the V8 and in its place is a brand new twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 that delivers 415 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque, which is notably more than the outgoing 4.6-litre V8’s 360 hp figure.
Mated to the new engine is an industry-first for a luxury sedan – a 10-speed automatic transmission, which is a traditional torque converter but Lexus says its shift times will rival that of dual clutch automatics and will offer paddle shifters and above average fuel efficiency.
Rear-wheel steering is also equipped, as is a new pedestrian detection system – when a pedestrian is detected and collision is imminent, it will autonomously brake and steer around that obstacle without veering out of the lane.
Offered only as a long-wheelbase model, the new Lexus LS has its work cut out for it to brainwash and convince the current horde of SUV owners. It’s sleek new design, classy interior, and renowned reliability is sure to keep Lexus fans happy, but will that be enough to paddle above treacherous waters? We shall know soon enough when Lexus’ highly anticipated flagship goes on sale at the end of 2017.