The latest Japanese luxo-barge has debuted in Detroit. But why should you care?
Lexus is finally going turbo
Yes, we know that Lexus has already put a tentative toe into turbocharging with the NX, but this is the full, dive-right-in moment.
Choosing an engine for your flagship car is not undertaken lightly. And, with the LS’s history of almost invincible engines, the new twin-turbo, 3.5-litre V6 has a lot to live up to. There’s 415bhp and 600Nm on offer – more power and torque than the V8 it replaces – which means this land yacht should go from zero to 97kph in 4.5 seconds.
There are more gears in the box than ever before
Remember when a six-speed was the logical high-water mark in gearboxes? Well, Lexus has gone down the ‘nothing exceeds like excess’ route here, one-upping everyone with a 10-speed automatic gearbox.
We’re wondering where exactly this particular arms race will end, and if we’ll ever get to the point where mountain bikes have fewer speeds than luxury saloons.
It’s even bigger than the old model
Okay, that’s not exactly surprising news, especially in the large-saloon market. Luxury four-doors get bigger with each generation, to the point where a modern Mercedes C-Class is nearly as long as the original S-Class. Seriously.
The new LS sits on the company’s new luxury global platform (a stretched version of the one that underpins the lovely new LC Coupe) and is apparently the stiffest Lexus in history. It sports a wheelbase of 123 inches – that’s in excess of 3.1 metres, if you speak metric – which is more than an inch longer than the old model, which was never a stubby thing to begin with. Expect voluminous legroom in the rear.
It’s way, way lighter than the old one
This is one of the modern car trends we’re actually massive fans of. Without putting too fine of a point on things, weight is an absolute killer in cars – it ruins the acceleration, destroys fuel economy, causes many pollutions and even makes for a harsher ride, because engineers have to bolster the suspension to keep the car from behaving like a 1970s Cadillac in the bends.
You’ll be glad to know that the 2017 LS is more than 200 pounds – about 90 kilos – lighter than the old one, thanks to its more compact engine and use of ultra-high tensile steel and aluminium. That said, you still won’t confuse it with a Lotus, but kudos to Lexus in any case.
Yes, we know the global trend towards lighter cars is likely much more about pollution and consumption figures than driving enjoyment, but we’ll take a win where we can get it.
It’s all about noise
There’s “a more authoritative tone” from the exhaust, surround sound from the Mark Levinson stereo and a complete absence of road noise – if you believe the hype.
Much like Ford, Nissan and Honda, Lexus has gone down the road of an active noise-cancelling speaker system, which promises to insulate LS passengers from the harsh roar of the road.
It’s all to do with the idea of destructive interference – insert your own political / mother-in-law / ex-wife joke here – in which sound waves generated by driving are bombarded with artificially created sound waves in a completely opposite phase, destroying the original in the process.
The upshot, for those unfamiliar with active noise cancellation, is seriously spooky isolation. In the LS’s case, from the other plebs on the road.