When Lexus launched its first model, we’ll bet that not many took the Japanese brand too seriously as a premium luxury player. Almost 30 years have passed since then and the Toyota subsidiary holds a decent worldwide share of luxury sales.
Somehow that doesn’t quite translate to the SA market, which seems fixated on the German brands.
A new player
The all-new Lexus LS 500 will aim to gain an advantage over its rivals by providing levels of powertrain smoothness, spaciousness, handling, ride comfort, safety, craftsmanship and attention to detail that are among the best in class.
Under the skin
The fifth-generation LS is based on a new rear-drive platform. Only one powertrain is offered in the LS, an all-new 3,5-litre, twin-turbocharged V6 that delivers 310 kW and 600 N.m of torque. Power is transferred by a unique 10-speed transmission, the first for a luxury sedan.
Lexus claims a 0 – 100 km/h acceleration time of 5 seconds. Top speed for the LS is electronically limited to 250 km/h. Fuel consumption is quoted as 9,5 litres per 100 kilometres.
Lightweight multilink suspension systems are utilised for front and rear wheels, which are connected to 20-inch alloys. New, electronically-controlled air suspension is also available for the new LS. It uses a closed system in which compressed air is stored in pneumatic tank so that it can be supplied to the suspension at the moment it’s needed to raise vehicle height.
In the cabin
As expected the cabin is laden with high-tech systems and premium-feeling materials and craftsmanship such as leather, precise stitch-work and detailed metal and wood.
New front and rear seat designs are said to offer class-leading levels of adjustment and new massage functions.
In-cabin technology includes a 12,3-inch multi-media screen, head-up display, rear-seat DVD entertainment as well as a Mark Levinson 23-speaker surround sound audio system.
Rear occupants are placed even, possibly, an even more enviable position. A multi-function touchscreen in the rear centre armrest console adjusts the position of the rear seats, together with audio, climate, sunshade and interior lighting functions. The front passenger seat and entertainment monitor are also automatically adjusted to suit the chosen configuration.
All this luxury does come at a price, R2 141 400, to be exact, which includes a best-in-segment 7-year/105 000 km warranty and maintenance plan.