LEXUS' LUXURY FLAGSHIP the LS 600h has undergone some major under-the-skin revisions for 2010, making its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week.
Although outwardly similar to the model it succeeds (only a new grille, headlamp design, front and rear bumpers and new sideskirts separate it from the 2009 model), the 2010 LS 600 and long-wheelbase LS 600h L boast a number of mechanical differences.
Key among these is a tweaked hybrid powertrain, which is now Euro V compliant and features a fuel-saving ECO mode.
Efficiency is improved by better management of the LS 600h's climate control system and throttle mapping, but despite the fuel economy gains, output is unchanged at 327kW and 520Nm.
The LS600h's battery pack has also been redesigned and repackaged, freeing up some extra luggage space in the boot in the process. The airconditioning system for the rear cabin is repackaged too, and uses up less boot space.
Braking hardware is upgraded for 2010, and 380mm ventilated front disc brakes with six-piston callipers developed by Brembo are now mounted behind the front wheels.
An automatic high-beam system detects oncoming traffic and shuts down the high beams instantaneously, further improving safety.
Inside, a new instrument cluster incorporating a TFT LCD display is added, featuring a customisable readout in the middle of the speedometer that can show navigation, vehicle status and hybrid system information.
The dashboard itself has been redesigned to separate the upper air vents from the centre console, while the audio controls and the buttons for the central multi-function display have also been revised.
A hard-disc drive navigation system is added to the LS 600h's standard equipment list, as has a 7.1 surround sound Mark Levinson stereo. The premium audio system incorporates inputs for external audio players and memory units, and a 10GB onboard hard disc can store music from CDs.
New whiplash-countering active headrests have been added to the front seats, and a new Rear Seat Relaxation package can now be specced for five-seat LS 600h's.
Featuring integral side airbags, retractable footrests and a massage function, the reclinable rear seats are a luxurious option for buyers who don't intend to do much driving.
The 2010 LS 600h range is on sale in Europe now, and is expected to join the Australian Lexus line-up some time in the first half of next year. Pricing and precise Aus-market specifications will be released closer to the launch.