4 / 12 / 2017
Lexus LS 500h press kit
The new Lexus LS: a fifth generation of the brand-defining flagship sedan
The original Lexus LS was the result of six years’ work by 1,400 engineers to build a luxury car that would rival the best in the world. This “Project F1” duly delivered the original LS 400 model in 1989, launching the Lexus brand and beginning a transformation of the prestige vehicle market.
Toshio Asahi, Chief Engineer of the new LS, reflected on how the original model took the motor industry by surprise: “Its excellent driving performance and superior quietness were proof that we allowed no compromise.”
More than that, it also sparked a revolution in customer service and satisfaction, with newcomer Lexus consistently setting new benchmarks for the established industry players to aspire to.
Almost 30 years later, an all-new, fifth generation LS flagship sedan is being launched, a model that draws on the proud history of its predecessors while breaking new ground in design, technology and performance, and extending the boundaries of automotive luxury.
The challenge now for Lexus is not simply to go beyond the achievements of the past, but to reimagine what a global flagship sedan should be. This mission has had the close attention of Toyota President Akio Toyoda, who is committed to introducing more excitement to Lexus models and who has helped in the development of the new LS in his role as a Master Driver.
“Not only will the LS symbolise the Lexus brand, it will become the definitive new generation luxury car, embodyin g Japanese tradition and culture,” said Chief Engineer Asahi. “As such, this global pinnacle must go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury vehicle.”
The Lexus brand shift
Customers’ perceptions of “luxury” were very different back when the original LS was launched; at that time, the focus on was on objective qualities that could be measured. Today the landscape has changed so that qualitative, subjective responses have become more important considerations when developing the new model.
Chief Engineer Asahi explained: “Luxury is now about experiences rather than possessing luxury items, so Lexus has shifted from being a luxury car brand to a lifestyle brand that offers amazing experiences.”
This broader outlook is witnessed in Lexus’ wide-ranging encouragement of innovation and emerging talent in diverse creative fields. For example, the annual Lexus Design Award seeks out exciting new designers worldwide, giving them the chance to showcase their ideas at Milan Design Week and develop their work with mentorship from leading professionals. Lexus also regularly works with high-profile innovators in fashion, art and music to help create amazing experiences that capture the essence of its brand.
The rebirth of Lexus’ flagship sedan in the form of the all-new LS encapsulates this new, wide-ranging luxury philosophy.
Lexus’ brand differentiators
- A new luxury flagship sedan that defines the Lexus brand
- Radical new design with coupe-like silhouette, yet the spaciousness of a prestige sedan
- Interior combines modern design with traditional Japanese aesthetics
- New platform delivers even higher level of LS agility and comfort
Crafting a unique identity
Koichi Suga, Chief Designer of the new LS, recognised from the outset the pivotal role the model plays in defining Lexus, embodying the brand’s history, image and what it stands for.
“I knew that this was an amazing opportunity to create a Lexus flagship sedan for the world,” he said. “With my team we wanted to produce something completely new, with unique proportions. Our goal was a car that is longer, lower and wider with a more powerful presence,” he said.
The designers were helped in their task by the new Global Architecture – Luxury (GA-L) platform on which the new LS is constructed. Its proportions allow for an extended wheelbase, a spacious interior and a lower, ground-hugging appearance with coupe lines.
Chief Designer Suga made outline sketches on dozens of small Post-it notes before crystallising his ideas for a sporty look that would project a more emotional image for Lexus.
“Our modelling theme was ‘forged from passion,’ with the sense of the ‘passion’ being pushed outwards towards the four wheels,” he said. “Our sketches were drawn with an emphasis on a flowing silhouette and large tyres. Meanwhile we also had to address the critical points of providing space for rear seat passengers and ease of getting in and out of the car.”
In the process of defining the car’s design, no fewer than seven mock-up models were completed, compared to the three or four usually created for an all-new model development programme, reflecting the intense attention to detail and importance of the new LS to the Lexus brand as a whole.
Design generated by the spindle grille
The spindle grille has become a signature feature of Lexus vehicle design, but its purpose is not simply a brand signifier. On the new LS it provides a starting point for the car’s design theme, generating lines which flow through the body and converge at the rear.
The grille itself has an intricate mesh design with 5,000 individual surfaces (more than 7,000 in the F SPORT), which took a highly skilled CAD modellers three and a half months to produce (five months for F SPORT), followed by further precision adjustment by hand. The sophisticated pattern echoes the shape of the grille as it folds back, with a sense of tension and an appearance which changes according to the light.
The spindle theme is also evident in the car’s rear styling and is even picked up in the stitching pattern for the F SPORT seat upholstery.
Lexus has revolutionised the LS’s design principles, moving from its established “three-box” sedan to a car that presents a radically different, coupe-like silhouette. Its lower, sleeker lines, which are more appealing to today’s customers, have been achieved without sacrificing any of the spaciousness and comfort that are fundamental to the LS’ status as a flagship model.
Notably, it is the first Lexus sedan to feature a six-window profile, which ensures excellent outward visibility, and also the first to feature windows with flush surfaces that integrate smoothly with the side pillars.
A shoulder line running from front to rear emphasises the low centre of gravity and the car’s low posture, emphasising the horizontal axis. The lines of the front and rear fenders are slanted forwards, generating a dynamic impression and evoking the car’s performance qualities.
The ground-hugging appearance is not an illusion: the GA-L platform has allowed the LS’ height to be reduced by 15.2 mm, with the hood and boot lowered even further – by approximately 30.5 and 40.6 mm respectively.
The frontal design makes a bold statement with the dramatic forward thrust of the spindle grille and a low hood profile, achieved thanks to the positioning of the front suspension towers permitted by the new GA-L platform. The boundary between the hood and the fenders is deeply sculpted, accentuating the contrast between the different surfaces.
The impact of the frontal design is enhanced by ultra-compact, triple bi-LED (high/low beam) headlights. These are housed in a narrow, slit-shaped unit that merges with the LED daytime running lights, set in an L-configuration that wraps around the edge of car. Sequential turn indicators are aligned with the DRLs, comprising 16 LEDs that illuminate in just 0.08 seconds.
At the rear, the shoulder line connects to the rear combination lamps, then folds down and back on itself to connect to the rear diffuser, echoing the lines of the spindle grille. The full LED combination lamps have a sleek design with strong vertical corners that give them an instantly recognisable shape.
The LS is equipped as standard with a glass sunroof which opens externally. This allows for a design that is 30 mm thinner than previously, preserving cabin headroom beneath the low roofline.
The LS is available with a range of new wheel designs, including 19 and 20-inch cast alloy noise reduction wheels, 20-inch forged alloys and a 10-spoke 20-inch cast alloy design exclusive to the F SPORT model.
In Europe, 13 different exterior paint finishes are available for the new LS, including a new Manganese Luster shade and the new Sonic Agate. F White and Sapphire Blue are exclusive to the F SPORT model.
The design of the new LS’ interior combines traditional Japanese aesthetics with advanced manufacturing techniques, reflected in elements such as the soft ambient lighting that makes the armrests appear to float next to the door panels, and new ways of working with wood to create trims with vibrant and detailed grain patterns.
Chief Designer Suga explained: “I hope that when you open the door, you have an immediate sense that you are looking at an interior that’s unlike any luxury car you’ve seen before.”
The new LS provides a driver focused cockpit and a front passenger seat area designed to gently envelop the occupant. Elements such as fine leather, precise stitch-work and detailed metal and wood accents add to the welcoming ambience with a range of textures and surfaces that are pleasing to the eye and touch.
The seats are upholstered in a new L-aniline leather that is remarkable soft and supple – up to 30 per cent softer than premium semi-aniline leather. Only the finest one per cent of hides are selected for the L-aniline tanning process.
The dashboard has a sweeping array of fixed, horizontal metal fins spanning its full width, neatly concealing the movable fins that direct airflow from the air conditioning vents. The information displays are positioned at a uniform height in a “seat-in-control” layout that allows the driver to view and operate all the systems without changing their body posture.
Directly in front of the driver, the standard combination meter is set in a stitched leather frame, with the Optitron display presenting what looks like a physical metal bezel. An elegant, full screen animation is presented on the eight-inch TFT screen when the driver enters and leaves the vehicle. A high-definition, full-colour head-up display is available, the largest in the LS’ segment. Images are projected to appear three metres ahead of the driver, to minimise the eye focus adjustment required between looking at the display and the road ahead.
The new steering wheel has a three-spoke design and smaller diameter (-10 mm) than that used in the previous LS model. The profile varies around the circumference to provide ideal grip characteristics. Three versions of the wheel are available, with an all-leather trim, a combination of leather with genuine woodgrain inserts, and an F SPORT version that uses the same grip profile as the LC coupe.
A range of interior colours is available: Black, L-White, Ivory, Topaz Brown, Dark Saddle Tan, Noble Brown, Camel and Crimson & Black combination. The F SPORT options are Galaxy Black, F White or Flare Red.
The trim choices include Kiriko Glass,Laser Cut Dark Wood, Black Shimamoku, Art Wood Organic or Herringbone, Laser Cut Special and two types of walnut finish. Naguri-Style aluminium trim is exclusive to the F SPORT model.
- Takumi craftsmanship combines the best traditions of Japanese culture and aesthetics with modern design and technologies
- Luxury interior embraces artforms such as Kiriko glass-making and Origami in the creation of exclusive ornamentation and hand-pleated door panels
- Specialist techniques applied to create new Art Wood trims
The intersection of tradition and technology
The fine skills of Takumi craftspeople contribute to the high quality of every Lexus vehicle, but in developing the new LS, Lexus has gone further to combine the traditions of Japanese culture and aesthetics with contemporary design and advanced technologies.
It was Chief Designer Koichi Suga’s vision for the new LS that is should draw on traditional Japanese artforms, such as Kiriko glass-making and Origami. He said: “As a Japanese luxury brand, we wanted to integrate elements of Japanese culture and the timeless appeal of Japanese craftsmanship to express the artistic side of Lexus.”
The Lexus Takumi
The Takumi are the most senior craftspeople in Lexus, responsible for ensuring that the required excellent quality is achieved in every stage of the car-making process.
Using the skills of the human hand, eye and ear, honed through years of experience, they can detect the smallest imperfections and the fine adjustments that may be needed to improve performance or appearance.
They also contribute to the hand-crafted elements of the vehicle, for example the precision stitching of the leather upholstery. The Takumi undergo intensive training, moving from straight lines to the rapid sewing of curved seams. Once they have mastered this technique, they work on a real instrument panel, repeating the seaming several hundred times over a period of three months. At Lexus’ giant Kyushu factory there are just 12 Takumi responsible for the detailed accuracy of every stitch.
The Takumi are also responsible for training and inspiring other technicians, helping them learn the skills that will make them the Takumi of the future.
The earn Takumi status, Lexus craftsman have to complete a number of rigorous challenges, including a daily Origami cat challenge. To demonstrate their dexterity and attention to detail, they must perfectly complete the folded cat design in less than 90 seconds. What’s more, they have to accomplish the task using only their non-dominant hand.
Kiriko glass ornamentation
The traditional skills and designs of Japanese Kiriko glass-making have been used to create a unique ornamentation for the new LS’ door panels. Masters of Kiriko worked with Lexus to replicate the hand-carved appearance of the glasswork, which adds extra dimensions of visual and tactile appeal with its light-catching, multi-faceted surface. Although the glass looks delicate, it is in fact very strong thanks to modern reinforcement technology.
Hand-pleated door panels
The draped pleating in the door panels has been achieved using the time-honoured skills of Origami paper-folding. A colour designer and a fabric artisan produced Hand Pleats, a new fabric pleating technique that creates a three-dimensional pattern that is pleasing to the eye and touch. The process took four years to develop and can only be carried out by the human hand. It mirrors the work of the finest Origami artists, requiring individual sheets of fabric to be expertly folded, like a sheet of paper. The finished panel changes in appearance according to the time of day and cabin illumination, adding to the elegance and enveloping quality of the interior.
Lexus has applied new ways of working with veneers to produce unique designs and effects that distinguish the new LS from any other model.
Using Takumi craftsmanship, it has produced a new Art Wood finishes that fuse the natural beauty of wood with Lexus’ brave design. Art Wood Organic uses a precise layering technique and a natural gloss coating to bring out vibrant, contrasting, flame-like grain patterns. For Art Wood Herringbone, techniques used to craft fine musical instruments are applied, with the hand-grafting of small pieces of wood to create delicate symmetrical patterns.
A third interpretation, Laser Cut Special, uses laser technology to cut through the veneer to expose a sub-layer of metal, creating a pattern inspired by the way the Lexus L-motif is worked into the mesh of the LS’ spindle grille.
- New LS embraces the traditional Japanese hospitality principles of Omotenashi in caring for vehicle occupants and anticipating their needs
- Advanced new front and rear seat designs with class-leading levels of adjustment and sophisticated new massage functions
- Precision control of the cabin environment for each occupant with upgraded Climate Concierge
- Bespoke 23-speaker 3D Surround Mark Levinson Reference Surround System using advanced new Quantum Logic Immersion (QLI) technology to create a full, three-dimensional sonic environment
The meaning of Omotenashi
Lexus believes that creating new standards of luxury in a flagship model is not simply a matter of adding more equipment features and technologies. Rather it aims to produce a kind of progressive luxury that welcomes and cares for the vehicle’s occupants, anticipating their needs and enabling the driver to feel perfectly connected to the car. It’s a way of thinking that’s inspired by Omotenashi, the finest principles of traditional Japanese hospitality.
The influence of Omotenashi starts with the “welcome” sequence as the driver approaches the vehicle. Inside the car there is a meticulous attention to detail in providing the most comfortable, safe and relaxing environment for all occupants, whether taking the wheel, or enjoying being chauffeured as a passenger.
To make getting in and out of the new LS as comfortable as possible, models equipped with air suspension provide a Premium access function. This automatically raises the low-slung sedan by 40 mm to an ideal 555 mm hip-height in just four seconds when the vehicle is unlocked. Once the occupants are on board and engine is switched on, the car returns to its regular ride height. The same convenient height adjustment is made when the car is stopped and a door is opened for someone to exit.
For the driver and front seat passenger, there is a sense of the car being prepared for their arrival, with the seat belt holder extending by 50 mm when the front doors are opened, ready for use. For the driver, the holder also rises when the engine is switched off, to make unbuckling easier. The feeling of being welcomed into the car continues with the outer cushion bolster opening out when the car is unlocked, and then automatically returning to its normal, supportive position when the driver is seated. The driver’s seat also automatically rises and moves rearwards to make for easier exit from the vehicle; similarly, when the driver enters the car, it returns to the previous driving position when they are seated.
The cabin lighting adds to the sense of welcome, with an illumination inspired by the soft glow of traditional Japanese Andon lanterns. Light sources are located behind the door trim panels and armrest, giving indirect, downward illumination that adds to the sense of spaciousness.
The design of the seats in the new LS was a prime consideration and a defining factor in the Omotenashi qualities of the car.
Lexus developed the seating to suit two types of customer: those who want to drive the car and those who will mostly be chauffeured in it as a passenger. This required equal attention to be paid to the needs of the driver, as well as rear-seat occupants, ensuring everyone on board can travel in supreme comfort, regardless of how long the journey lasts.
Front seating with 28-way adjustment and Shiatsu massage
The new LS is available with a new driver’s seat with 28-way power and pneumatic adjustment, including new controls to adapt support for the back, pelvis and hips. The level of adjustment is the best in the LS’ segment. The design provides excellent side holding, pelvis stability and shoulder support, and allows people of all body sizes and types to find their ideal position at the wheel and feel at one with the car.
Built on a new frame, the front seats are stronger and more rigid, using a high tensile steel side frame, yet they weigh only about 6 kg.
Rear seats with premium access
The multi-function touchscreen in the rear centre armrest console is used to precisely control 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.
There are three pre-set rear seat positions: Business, which is the default; Entertain, which reclines the seat for comfortable viewing of the entertainment monitor, and Relax, which extends the leg ottoman, deeply reclines the seatback and moves the front passenger seat to its further forward position to provide maximum legroom (at 1,022 mm, 86 mm more than in the previous LS). When the passenger arrives at their destination, the seat automatically returns to its default position as soon as the rear door is opened, allowing for an easy and comfortable exit .
The rear seats are available with best-in-class 22-way adjustment, including back, hip and pelvis support and ottoman extension. The angle of rear seat recline is also class-leading, at 48 degrees, achieved through adept packaging and a revised reclining mechanism.
Shiatsu massage functions
Lexus consulted Japanese massage experts to help design new Shiatsu massage systems for the front and rear seats that provide the right degree of thumb-like pressure in the right places to help the occupant relax.
For the front seats there are five separate massage courses which can be selected using the multi-information display, working with a centripetal or centrifugal action, or focusing on the lumbar, upper and lower body regions. For the driver this promotes relaxation without impairing their control of the car.
The rear seat massage function has also been upgraded with its operating area expanded to cover the occupant’s thighs as well as back. In a world-first, the system includes two spot heaters for the shoulder and lower back to provide targeted heat stimulation in conjunction with the Shiatsu massage.
Multiple setting options let the user tailor the massage sequence to suit their preference, with full body settings or operation focused on the upper or lower body, shoulders or lumbar region.
Lexus has succeeded in engineering a more compact yet no less efficient climate control system that supports the highest levels of on-board comfort. The smaller size of the air conditioning unit has helped secure the LS’s low hood line and low centre of gravity. The separate rear air conditioning system has also been made smaller, so there is less impact on the amount of load space available in the boot.
The configuration of the rear vents allows for a lower roof, while their positioning has been revised to provide optimum performance.
The Climate Concierge provides co-ordinated and efficient control of the air conditioning, seat heating and ventilation and heated steering wheel to maintain a comfortable environment to suit each person on board.
The system uses an upgraded infra-red matrix sensor to monitor the body temperature of all the vehicle occupants, with the number monitoring zones increased from six to sixteen to provide complete coverage of the interior. This allows for much finer control of heating and cooling, taking into account factors such as uneven heating cause by low-level sunlight through the windows. Operation is controlled via the main multimedia display; where four-zone climate control is specified there are additional controls in the rear seat console.
Near-silence – or the stirring sound of music
Lexus has designed the cabin of the new LS 500h to provide a quiet and calming environment, using new sound suppression methods to hush the environment to a level beyond any previous LS model. Active Noise Control detects when engine noise enters the cabin and cancels out certain frequencies using antiphase sound from the audio speakers.
The finest quality Mark Levinson Reference Audio systems have been a feature unique to Lexus’ most exclusive models, designed in co-operation with Lexus’ engineers to achieve performance tailored to the interior architecture of each vehicle.
The new LS is available with a new 3D Surround Mark Levinson QLI Reference Surround System, operating through an array of 23 high-efficiency speakers in 16 locations around the cabin, and using a 16-channel Mark Levinson Reference amplifier. Quantum Logic Immersion – QLI – and ClariFi technology help produce exceptional sound reproduction, of a higher quality than in any previous Lexus model.
QLI technology separates the audio sources into individual streams – vocals, instruments and spatial sound information – similar to the original arrangement. These audio streams are then mixed to recreate a full, thre-dimensional sonic environment. The new system was developed as the benchmark against which all others will compared for the next 10 years.
A Pioneer 12-speaker premium system is provided as standard equipment, specifically designed for the LS’ interior.
Lexus’ focus on providing a supremely quiet cabin environment has extended to the development of noise reduction wheels. Available in 19 and 20-inch designs, these feature a hollow rim section with a resonator hole that helps reduce air resonance generated by the tyres. This occurs when the tyre deforms as it travels over the road surface, changing the internal air pressure; in turn, this causes the air inside the tyre to vibrate, generating sound waves. With the noise reduction wheel, the sound waves are directed towards the resonator hole, where they resonate with the air in the hollow section of the wheel. This creates friction in the air, which converts the soundwave to heat, absorbing resonance and reducing sound pressure. The wheel design also enhances rigidity and saves weight.
Power trunk with hands-free operation
The new LS has a power-operated trunk that can be opened and closed hands-free, using a kick-sensor beneath the rear bumper. When carrying luggage, or wanting to avoid touching the car’s bodywork, the user only needs to stand within the sensor’s range with the smart key on their person to activate the control, by passing their foot below the edge of the bumper.
- LS available with new technologies for improved active safety, together with driving assistance functions that signal Lexus’ progress towards future automated driving systems
- New Lexus Safety System + A features include Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Alert and Active Steering Assist, Lexus Co-Drive (Lane Tracing Assist with the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control) and Front Cross Traffic Alert
- Additional Parking Support Brakes and enhanced Panoramic View Monitor
Advances in active safety and driver assistance technology
The all-new LS marks the introduction of new technologies that provide world-leading safety performance and a new level of driver assistance that signals Lexus’ progress towards developing future automated driving systems.
Lexus has been promoting the development of automated driving technologies since the 1990s, working towards its goals of eliminating traffic accidents and providing individual mobility for people who otherwise would not be able to enjoy that freedom.
The new LS makes important progress in this area. As well as being equipped with Lexus Safety System +, the package of active safety systems Lexus has been rolling out across its vehicle range, it is the first model to benefit from the more advanced Lexus Safety System + A. This system comprises both active safety functions designed to help prevent an accident from happening, together with more sophisticated driver assistance features that signal a move towards providing a degree of automated driving.
Called Lexus CoDrive, this uses Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and Lane Tracing Assist to give a partial level of automated driving capability comparable to the SAE International level 2.
New and improved active safety technologies
Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Alert and world-first Active Steering Assist
The Pre-collision System (PCS) is a function familiar from Lexus Safety System +, but in the new LS its operation has been enhanced with the addition of both Pedestrian Alert and the world-first Active Steering Assist.
PCS uses millimetre-wave radar and a stereo camera to detect pedestrians and vehicles ahead and supports collision prevention and the mitigation of damage by alerting the driver and providing Pre-collision Brake Assist and Pre-collision Braking. The improved system can detect cyclists and night-time pedestrians and has an improved deceleration performance under automatic braking. For example it can slow the vehicle by as much as 60 km/h when a pedestrian is detected ahead, improving the chances of avoiding a collision.
With Pedestrian Alert, if there is the possibility of a collision with a pedestrian in front of the vehicle, the presence and location of the pedestrian is shown in an animation on the head-up display, contributing to the driver’s intuitive recognition of what is happening on the road ahead.
The Active Steering Assist determines when there is high risk of a collision with pedestrian in the car’s lane of travel, or with a continuous structure, such as a crash barrier. If it calculates that it would be difficult to avoid a collision using brake control alone, but that it might be avoided with steering control, it will initiate automatic steering control in addition to triggering an alert and applying the brakes.
Two-stage Adaptive High-beam System (AHS)
The LS’ headlights each feature an arrangement of eight upper and 16 lower LEDs. The Two-stage Adaptive High-beam System provides optimal lighting with separate on/off control of each row LEDs, giving finer control of lighting strength and distance compared to Lexus’ established AHS. This allows for the car to be driven for longer on high-beam without dazzling vehicles ahead or oncoming traffic, improving night-time visibility.
Front Cross Traffic Alert (FCTA)
FCTA is designed to help prevent collisions happening at intersections by detecting vehicles moving across the flow of traffic ahead. It uses forward direction radar and is the world’s first system of its kind to alert drivers to the direction from which a cross-traffic vehicle is approaching at an intersection. Alerts are shown on the driver’s head-up display. If the LS continues to move forward regardless of there being a vehicle in cross traffic, a warning buzzer is sounded and an alert is shown on the multi-information display.
Road Sign Assist (RSA)
RSA uses a camera and navigation system maps to acquire road sign information, which it then relays to the driver using the head-up and multi-information displays. This promotes safer driving by reducing the risk of the driver failing to see or notice important highway commands and warnings.
Driver assistance technologies
Lexus CoDrive advanced driving assist technology
Lexus CoDrive adds Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) to the basic functions of Dynamic Radar Cruise Control to provide steering support in line with the driver’s intentions. By providing seamless driving support on roads with many bends, or in traffic jams, Lexus CoDrive can reduce the burden on the driver. It gives the driver clear information about the status of the driving support that’s being provided, via the LSs head-up and multi-information displays.
Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
The Dynamic Radar Cruise Control offers outstanding basic recognition performance, with wide-angle detection using a new millimetre-wave radar and a camera with a wider forward recognition range. The system also helps make driving more comfortable, with smooth acceleration at start-up and during vehicle following, departure and acceleration, or adapting to the speed limit detected by RSA.
Lane Tracing Assist
Lane Tracing Assist uses steering control to provide lane-keeping support when the LS’s Dynamic Radar Cruise Control is in operation. As well as using a camera to detect lane demarcation lines on the road, it traces the path of the vehicle ahead to provide assistance when the lines cannot be recognised. This can happen, for example, in low-speed traffic when there little space between the LS and the vehicle ahead.
Additional safety technologies
Parking support brakes
The LS’ low-speed braking support systems have been integrated in a single package, to reduce the risk of damage from low-speed bumps when parking or manoeuvring, helping the driver avoid hazards such as nearby moving vehicles and pedestrians and stationary objects such as walls and street furniture. The world’s first rear pedestrian support brake has been added to the Intelligent Clearance Sonar and Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Braking. This detects pedestrians behind the vehicle using a rear camera; if there is a risk of a collision, alerts and brake control are triggered.
Panoramic View Monitor with side clearance and cornering view functions
Side clearance view and cornering view functions have been added to the Panoramic View Monitor, making it easier for the driver to determine the safe space around the vehicle. Side clearance view produces an image on the LS’ display monitor that shows the area in front of the car as if seen from a high position above the rear of the vehicle, giving the driver better sight of the space on each side of the car, for example when passing another car on a narrow road. When side clearance view is operating, cornering view automatically produces an image of the vehicle as seen from the rear at an angle in line with the car’s direction when moving through a bend or turn. These help the driver confirm left or right turns can be made safely on narrow roads and avoid driving up onto the kerb.
Multimedia system and the Lexus Remote Touch Interface
The new LS is equipped with a next-generation Lexus multimedia system that provides complete control of navigation, audio, media, telephone, apps and climate control, as well adjustment of and customisation of key vehicle settings. It uses a 12.3-inch high-resolution screen that provides quick and clear information and graphics.
The dynamic voice recognition provides more accurate response to spoken commands by using on and off-board speech processing. Manual operation is by means of the Lexus Remote Touch Interface with a new, enlarged and frameless touchpad that allows gesture controls to be used – pinch, scroll, drag, double-tap – like those for smartphones, while also supporting handwritten input.
- Constructed on the new Global Architecture – Luxury platform, with direct dynamic benefits of a low centre gravity and optimum front/rear weight distribution
- LS 500h powered by the new Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System powertrain
- Sophisticated suspension systems, including Adaptive Variable Suspension with continuously variable control and new air suspension
new Global Architecture – Luxury platform
The new Global Architecture – Luxury (GA-L) platform that underpins the LS 500h is fundamental to its quality. This all-new structure was developed from a “clean sheet of paper,” taking a completely new approach to engineering, materials and design. The same platform is used for the Lexus LC flagship coupe, but for the LS it has been extended to gain the extra rear cabin space that was a design priority.
In fact, the new LS’ 3,125 mm wheelbase is 35mm longer than that of the previous LS long-wheelbase model. In spite of this increase in length, the driver still sits in the centre of the wheelbase, with a hip-point close to the car’s centre of gravity (which is a best-in-class 543 mm).
The combination of a low centre of gravity, a very stiff chassis and excellent weight balance contributes to reassuring poised vehicle dynamics, with seamless braking, steering and acceleration, and a consistently comfortable cabin environment for driver and passengers alike.
The platform allows the new LS to be about 15 mm lower overall, compared to the previous model, with reductions of approximately 30 and 40mm in the height of the hood and boot respectively, giving the car a ground-hugging appearance.
It has also enabled heavier elements to be moved closer to the centre of the vehicle, with the engine moved to a front midship position, the driving position moved rearwards and the hybrid battery (a lighter and more compact lithium-ion unit) positioned further forward.
Together these measures help lower the car’s centre of gravity and achieve an optimum 51/49 front to rear weight balance, minimising body roll and improving steering response for a more engaging driving experience.
Lightweight materials and highly rigid body structure
The optimisation of vehicle mass distribution has been further helped by the use of new, lightweight materials in the car’s structure, including new cast aluminium front and rear suspension towers. As aluminium cannot be welded to steel, these are connected to the body using self-piercing rivets and high-strength adhesive bonding. Compared to equivalent steel parts, these towers are significantly lighter and more rigid – about twice the rigidity and 42 per cent less weight at the front; around 1.5 times more rigid and 50 per cent lighter at the rear.
Other lightweight metals, including ultra-high tensile steel, steel alloys and aluminium are used in critical areas to provide strength and rigidity. In fact high tensile steel accounts for almost 30 per cent of the vehicle’s mass, more than double the proportion in the previous LS. Principal panels, including the doors, fenders, hood and bootlid are made of aluminium; where the doors are concerned this not only saves weight, but also allows for a slim but strong structure, maximising space inside the car.
The use of structural adhesive and laser screw welding is also significantly greater, to increase the rigidity of panel joints. Almost 33 metres of adhesive is applied to the underbody, compared to just five metres previously.
Suspension compliance has been a defining element in the ride quality and comfort of successive Lexus LS generations. With the latest model a new, high-mounted multilink system has been developed for both the front and rear suspension, allowing even better performance to be achieved.
The front system uses double ball joints for both the upper and lower control arms, allowing control of the smallest movements caused by driver inputs or the road surface. This unique arrangement optimises the suspension geometry to increase wheel control and give more precise steering control with better initial effort. To help reduce weight, aluminium is used extensively throughout the suspension.
The rear system is a new, compact multilink design that provides high levels of stability. As with the front arrangement, it is based on the suspension developed for the LC coupe, but with adjustments to the bushing to enhance handling stability and ride comfort.
Adaptive Variable Suspension
The new LS is available with a new, more advanced Adaptive Variable Suspension that provides continuous adjustment of damping control for all four wheels in response to the way the car is being driven and road surface conditions. This continuously variable capability has increased the number of control levels from nine (in the previous LS’ system) to 650. The result is faster, seamless and more refined operation.
For example, when driving on uneven roads, the system can increase ride comfort without too great an increase in damping force. When the steering wheel is turned, however, damping force is automatically increased to suppress the effect of the car’s weight transfer and maintain a flat cornering attitude.
A new, electronically controlled air suspension is also available for the new LS, providing exceptional ride quality. 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.
The air suspension is used to provide the new LS’ Access mode for ease of entry to and exit from the vehicle, described in the Omotenashi chapter, above.
The LS 500h is fitted with a new generation Electronically Controlled Braking system (ECB) that uses build-up control to increase vehicle deceleration, gradually increasing brake fluid pressure, even if the driver is maintaining constant pressure on the brake pedal. This communicates an appropriate braking feel.
The system features 357 x 34 mm front and 335 x 25 mm rear spiral-vented discs. There are four-piston callipers at the front and two-piston units at the rear. Larger brakes are featured on the LS 500h F SPORT, detailed in the specific F SPORT chapter below.
Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management
Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) co-ordinates control of a range of vehicle handling and active safety systems to enhance the overall dynamic performance of the new LS. Its operation covers the vehicle’s ABS, Traction Control, Vehicle Stability Control, Electronic Power Steering, Variable Gear Ratio Steering, and Dynamic Rear Steering.
Lexus Dynamic Handling
The optional Lexus Dynamic Handling System provides a higher degree of handling poise and control in all driving scenarios, controlling the angle of all four wheels through co-ordination of the Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), Dynamic Rear Steering (DRS) and Electronic Power Steering (EPS).
Its operation is calculated according to the vehicle’s speed and dynamic behaviour. Thus at speeds below 80 km/h, the front and rear wheels operate at a different angle for agile handling and securing cornering; at speeds above 80 km/h, the front and rear wheels are at the same angle of steering, for greater stability.
The VGRS controls the steering angle in line with vehicle speed and the driver’s inputs, giving better yaw response, turning performance and stability when cornering or changing lanes. The steering gear ratio is automatically adjusted, taking vehicle speed and driving conditions into account. This means fewer turns of the wheel are needed at low speeds, or when making a U-turn. The optimum ratio is selected to provide easy-to-handle responsiveness at low to medium speeds, while at high speed the VGRS helps achieve a controlled, stable feel.
The sleek new exterior design of the LS 500h is aerodynamically efficient as well as beautiful to look at. The overall form of the upper body has been crafted to have an ideal wind-cheating shape, with detailed enhancements that suppress turbulence and improve dynamic performance. It also enables a smooth rearward airflow to the back of the car, where it merges with the flow of air from the underbody.
The sides of the front bumper have been shaped to direct the airflow along the side of the wheel houses. Also, small but effective aero stabilising fins have been located on the door frame moulding and rear combination lamps, to keep the airflow closer to the body and so improve handling stability. The rear lights also have an air-kick shape, their corners curved to direct the airflow smoothly away from the vehicle.
Flush side window glass supresses the turbulence that usually occurs when air flows over uneven surfaces.
Beneath the car, the underbody has been almost fully covered to reduce drag, with aerodynamic fins located to guide the airflow smoothly rearwards. Vertical fins just behind the rear tyres help reduce turbulence and drag.
The LS 500h has a 0.26 coefficient of drag (0.28 with all-wheel drive).
Performance and smoothness redefined
The LS 500h has a self-charging, petrol-electric hybrid powertrain that uses Lexus’ revolutionary new Multi Stage Hybrid System, a technology first introduced in the LC 500h flagship coupe. It also features a naturally aspirated, 3.5-litre V6 Atkinson cycle petrol engine, two electric motors/generators and a compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery. Constructed using lightweight valvetrain components and equipped with D-4S direct fuel injection and VVT-i intelligent variable valve timing for both inlet (with VVT-iW ‘wide’ operation) and outlet valves, it delivers ample torque across all engine speeds, up to a 6,600 rpm red line.
Combined system output (engine and electric motors) is 264 kW / 354 HP /359PS, enabling acceleration in the front-wheel drive model from rest to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds; with all-wheel drive the acceleration time is 5.5 seconds (both times provisional, subject to final confirmation).
Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System
The Multi Stage Hybrid System uses the established Lexus Hybrid Drive electric continuously variable transmission, coupled to a new four-speed shift device. This arrangement expands the range of gearing, proving more direct response to driver inputs and a higher level of dynamic performance, while at the same time maintaining the smooth, refined performance required for luxury flagship.
In a conventional full hybrid vehicle, engine output is amplified by the electric motor via a reduction gear, but with the new Multi Stage Hybrid System the power from the V6 engine and the electric motor can be amplified by the automatic transmission, allowing much greater drive power to be generated when accelerating from stationary.
Lexus has succeeded in increasing maximum engine rpm from 6,000 to 6,600rpm. And thanks to the Multi Stage Hybrid System, the operating range in first, second and third gears has been increased, so that maximum rpm is reached at about 50km/h.
The Multi Stage Hybrid System allows the new LS 500h to be driven at higher road speeds with the combustion engine switched off, compared to previous Lexus hybrids – up to 140 km/h. It also allows the V6 engine to produce more drive power when pulling away.
Transmission with 10-speed driving feel
The design of the system places the multi-stage shift device immediately behind the power split device, on an axis aligned with the engine crankshaft. Although the transmission has four speeds, the D range has a simulated shift control pattern that replicates the feel of driving with a 10-speed gearbox. As vehicle speed rises, engine speed increases with a linear, direct and continuous acceleration feel that avoids the “rubber band” effect witnessed in some continuously variable transmissions. In the 10th gear range, the CVT control allows for cruising at lower engine revs for quiet, smooth and fuel-efficient performance.
The transmission also benefits from an improved version of the AI shift control found in conventional automatics. This enables intelligent, optimum gear selection to be made in line with driving conditions and driver inputs, for example when going up or downhill. The system also includes and automatic Drive Mode switching control. This means it can adjust gear shifts to suit the driver’s style and behaviour, without the driver having to select a different drive mode to get the kind of performance they want from the transmission.
M mode with manual gear selection
Thanks to the Multi Stage Hybrid System’s design, the driver is able to take advantage of an M mode to select and hold gears manually, using paddle shifts mounted behind the steering wheel. Thanks to the co-ordinated control of the Power Split Device and the gear shifting mechanism, the gear shift will start instantaneously with the computer receiving the signal from the paddle shift, giving an exceptionally quick response.
The new LS is fitted as standard with new run-flat tyres, developed to provide appropriate levels of ride quality and comfort. They also contribute to the car’s optimum weight distribution and dynamic performance. The reinforced rubber used in the sidewalls allows the LS to travel with a flat tyre for up to 160 km at speeds up to 80 km/h.
Drive Mode Select
Drive Mode Select lets the driver tailor the car’s performance to suit personal preference and the road conditions. In addition to Normal and ECO modes, the new LS offers Comfort and Custom settings, together with Sport S and Sport S+. According to the mode selected, there is automatic adjustment of the powertrain, Adaptive Variable Suspension, Electric Power Steering, Variable Gear Ratio Steering and air conditioning operation, as appropriate.
THE LS 500h F SPORT
- Styled and engineered for more sporty appeal
- Exclusive 10-spoke 20-inch F SPORT wheels, rocker mouldings and more powerful brakes
- F SPORT-exclusive interior, including seats, steering wheel, aluminium pedals, instrument display and Ultrasuede headlining
The new LS 500h range includes an F SPORT version, styled and instilled with a more engaging driving spirit. As well as bespoke design elements for both the exterior and interior, the F SPORT benefits from carefully applied chassis tuning and enhancements, while maintaining an exceptional level of comfort.
Lexus was able to make good use of the inherent agility of the new GA-L platform when developing the LS 500h F SPORT’s handling. It deployed the latest iteration of its Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management to provide optimum control of chassis dynamics through a single, co-ordinated system, delivering better traction, safety and handling agility.
Further benefits are gained through the use of exclusive 20-inch 10-spoke F SPORT cast alloy wheels, fitted with 245/45RF20 tyres at the front and 275/40RF20 tyres at the rear. Larger brakes are used, too: 400 x 36 mm front ventilated discs with six-piston monoblock aluminium callipers at the front and 359 x 30mm ventilated discs with four-piston callipers at the rear, both with high-friction brake pads.
In design aspects, the LS 500h F SPORT “turns up the volume” of the new LS design, while remaining faithful to its principal styling cues. Of particular note is an exclusive interpretation of the spindle grille with an even more intricate design that serves as a further demonstration of Lexus’ attention to fine detail. A team of CAD operators worked for months to achieve exactly the desired combination of texture and light interplay, adjusting more than 7,000 individual surfaces in the mesh pattern (compared to 5,000 for the standard LS model).
The F SPORT amplifies the LS’ rakish profile with its bespoke wheels and special rocker mouldings. The theme continues in the cabin, not least with the F SPORT grille pattern being replicated in the perforations of the leather seat upholstery. The seats themselves are F SPORT designs, available with28-way power and pneumatic adjustment and cushion extenders that provide extra body-holding performance when cornering and exceptional comfort, no matter how long the journey.
The driver’s instrument display features a special F SPORT speedometer and tachometer with an outer ring that moves to reveal a dual information display – a design adapted directly from display technology first used in the Lexus LFA supercar.
The F SPORT-exclusive steering wheel has been designed to increase the driver’s sense of connection with the car’s enhanced dynamic performance. It has the same grip profile as the wheel used in the LC coupe, produced through detailed measurements of palm pressure distribution and road testing by a Takumi driver. Further details include F SPORT accelerator pedal, footrest and shift lever. As a finishing sporting touch, the headlining is finished in tactile Ultrasuede material.