Lexus has revealed its fifth generation LS 500 limousine 28 years after the original LS debuted, bringing new powertrain and electronic technology to the brand to help it keep pace with key rivals including the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Yet Lexus insists it is "reimagining what a flagship sedan should be, as if launching the brand all over again," introducing new flagship features including a world first 24-inch colour head up display and pedestrian swerve function that aims to apply the brakes and steer away from a human in a potential collision.
Under the bonnet Lexus has modernised its drivetrain lineup with a brand new 310kW/600Nm 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 stepping in for the the previous 4.6-litre naturally aspirated V8 bumping outputs up by 25kW and 107Nm in the process.
If an entry price of around $185,000 can be maintained for the LS, the six-cylinder $224,155 BMW 740i (with 240kW/450Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo) and $234,716 Mercedes-Benz S 400 L (featuring 245kW/480Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo) could look overpriced and underpowered.
Despite sharing capacity its engine capacity with a wide range of other Toyota and Lexus six-cylinder models, the twin-turbo V6 engine is all-new with and "developed through the company's F1 technology." A long stroke, optimised stroke-to-bore ratio, redesigned engine mounts and electric turbo waste gates are also said to deliver "remarkable powertrain smoothness, a Lexus hallmark."
A hybrid has not yet been detailed, but a 10-speed automatic from the LC large coupe replaces the previous eight-speed auto and is claimed to deliver dual-clutch-quick shifts depending on whether Normal, Sport or Sport+ mode is selected – the latter of which delivers "just enough of the exhaust note can be heard to enhance the sporty feel."
Thanks to the new Global Architecture for Luxury Vehicles (GA-L) platform, which debuted on the naturally aspirated V8-only LC coupe, 90kg has been stripped from the former 2020kg kerb weight. It is also claimed to be the stiffest Lexus ever, despite being lighter. The weight loss comes despite the new LS now being only available in a single long wheelbase (a massive 3125mm, up 33mm) variant.
Aluminium is used "intensively" in the multi-link front and rear adaptive suspension that combines with the "availability" of active stabiliser bars and a Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) system with rear-wheel steering, to better control longitudinal, lateral and vertical body movements as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Air suspension is also available.
Compared with the outgoing version first launched in 2007, the new generation is 105mm longer at 5235mm and 25mm wider at 1900mm, but 30mm lower at 1450mm. It also sports Lexus' first six-window design featuring an emphasis on a lower bonnet (-30mm) and boot (-40mm) line, with 20-inch alloys filling the guards.
For the first time the LS takes on an obvious "coupe-like silhouette" according to the brand, but the sunroof even pops outwards and over the roof to preserve all-important headroom, teamed with Lexus design cues including a 'spindle' grille and integrated Z-shaped LED headlights and daytime running lights.
Lexus has based the cabin around Omotenashi or "the concept of Japanese hospitality" and that includes ambient lighting inspired by Oriental lanterns, native Shimamoku wood patterns, a floating-armrest design and a rear Shiatsu massage and raised ottoman.
The front seats also feature 28-way electric adjustability and heating, cooling and massage functions all 'round.
"Not only will the LS symbolise the Lexus brand, it will become the definitive new-generation luxury car embodying Japanese tradition and culture," Lexus LS chief engineer Toshio Asahi said in a statement.
"As such, this global pinnacle must go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury car."
The Lexus LS will arrive in Australian dealerships in early 2018.
MORE: Lexus News and Reviews