The new Lexus LS: a fifth generation of the brand-defining flagship sedan

The new Lexus LS: a fifth generation of the brand-defining flagship sedan

05.12.2017: 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 mo

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.



    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.

Exterior design

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.

Interior design

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.

 Lexus also photos


05.12.2017 / MaP

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