Even grander design
The luxury Japanese maker has given the LS much more than just a nose job
LEXUS has given its flagship model its second makeover in six years — but it virtually needed anaesthetic for this plastic surgery.
At a glance it looks as if Lexus has simply grafted the new HSV-like grille on to the LS limousine’s nose. But the company says there are more than 3000 changes and 13 Lexus firsts. Only the doors, roof and glass carry over.
It’s loaded with technology — including seats that will heat and cool faster than before, airconditioning that moisturises the occupants’ skin and hair and a tiny camera to check on drowsy drivers.
The big changes will try to arrest the sharp fall in super luxury sedan sales.
In the past six years, sales of limousines priced above $100,000 have dropped by 33 per cent. In that time, the market has grown by 10 per cent.
This year the cars classed as the top end of town have dropped a further 27percent as buyers go for luxury SUVs.
Lexus is lucky, however. It says 90percent of its LS buyers come back to buy another Lexus. And the Japanese maker is hoping it’s this one.
The new LS goes on sale from February with sharper pricing across the range and a new sports model.
The V8 and V8 hybrid power outputs are unchanged but are slightly more fuel-efficient. The price is still eyewatering at $189,900 — $1000 less than the old model.
But the new LS is far cheaper than the V8-powered German competition, which starts at $238,000 for an Audi A8, $281,000 for a BMW 7 Series and $296,500 for a Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
But the Germans have diesel models under $200,000, whereas Lexus has a V8 hybrid, which also happens to be all-wheel-drive. And costs $217,900.
‘‘The ($100,000-plus) luxury car market has become more competitive and diverse,’’ says Lexus Australia chief Tony Cramb. ‘‘In 2006 passenger cars accounted for 71 per cent of the total luxury market. That has fallen to 64 per cent (with the balance being luxury SUVs).’’
Cramb says the global financial crisis also killed much of the long-wheelbase sedan business.
‘‘The large luxury car scene in Australia can now be characterised as predominantly a driver market rather than a driven market . . . Australian buyers (of these vehicles) now prefer to drive themselves rather than be chauffeured.’’
Clock automatically changes to daylight saving time and new time zones thanks to GPS.
Timber steering wheel goes through 67 processes and takes 38 days to make. Seat warmers have more power (doubled to 200W) and heat up in half the time. Perforated seats have larger holes to provide 42 per cent better airflow for faster cooling. Front seats adjust 16 ways. Built-in fatigue management system focuses the tiny camera on the steering column on driver’s face and eyelids.
Lexus claims the new LS is the quietest car in the world. A hollow section in the alloy wheels saves weight and cuts noise.
The 12.3-inch screen in the dash is still the biggest in the automotive world and Lexus claims the LS has the smallest LED fog lamps.
The indicators can be programmed to flash 3, 5,7, 9, or 11 times at half a movement of the stalk.
Chauffeurs out: Lexus LS600h hybrid, main picture, and LS460