New Lexus LS: a flagship for captains of industry
The Lexus LS has always been the epitome of upper-class motoring – a serene sedan that’s put so much emphasis on refinement and creature comforts that the mechanicals underscoring the travel experience have typically remained completely inconspicuous.
And so it should be: frankly, owners of these large and lavish machines are better off on the back seat, conducting conference calls, catching up on stock prices, or – depending on the hour – sipping a fine single malt, while James the chauffeur does the driving bit up front.
The latest Lexus LS, shown at the Detroit Auto Show for the first time, continues that tradition. It’s a large but sleek and clearly sophisticated machine, with a low-slung stance and the low, curved, coupé-like roofline that’s become fashionable in big car design.
The shape is arresting, yes, but even the sleek silhouette can’t disguise the sheer size of the car: it’s 5,24 metres long and 1,9 metres wide, making the mere 1,45 metre height seem slightly incongruous.
Aesthetically, the front steals the show with the kind of assertive grille treatment we’ve now become accustomed to in the Lexus context: it aggressively wraps the front end of the car in meshed, chrome framed metal, while the sharp-slivered headlights have a piercing stare.
The rear – with its comparatively short, high deck and a bootlid wedged in between the buttresses of the rear fenders – looks a little stodgy by comparison, not helped by the huge tail light clusters and the equally generous overhang.
But the flanks are tidy, even athletic, and the way the curved roofline meets the rear three-quarter glass to create a slim, dynamic C-pillar is attractive too. LED headlights and intricate LED taillight patterns add a futuristic touch.
Lavish luxury permeates a cabin designed for cosseting occupants in comfort. Even the 28 way-adjustable front seats look more like small sofas, while plush leather covers vast tracts of interior real estate. The instrument binnacle is a TFT display, while a second panoramic screen dominates the vast expanse of the dashboard.
The rear seat offers heating, cooling and a massage function, together with more legroom than any previous Lexus LS: there’s even space for an ottoman. The passenger-side seat can be reclined by 48 degrees and raised by 24 degrees as an option – perfect for between-meeting power naps.
Meanwhile, James can enjoy the limo’s dynamics. The bonnet conceals a new 3,5-litre twin-turbo V6, delivering 310 kW of maximum muscle and 600 Nm of torque. For technophiles, however, the showpiece is a new 10-speed gearbox – a world first in this class – that promises to swap cogs seamlessly and unobtrusively.
Give it stick, and the Lexus will dash from rest to 100 km/h in a fringe-ruffling 4,5 seconds. All-wheel drive is an option for added traction and composure, while a full house of safety kit should rescue James if his exuberance gets him into a pickle – hopefully without the boss on board.
The Lexus LS will definitely be heading for South African shores, aiming its sights squarely at captains of industry and tenderpreneurs with a penchant for the finer things in life.