What's all this about?
Lexus revealed the LS 500h petrol-electric hybrid luxury saloon at the Geneva Motor Show, following on from the petrol-only LS 500, launched earlier this year in Detroit. It uses a longer wheelbase version of the Lexus Global Architecture, the Luxury (GA-L) platform. According to Lexus the hybrid LS 'presents brave design, exhilarating performance and a sophisticated appeal to capture the imagination of forward-thinking, younger customers'.
Looks good, what's under the bonnet?
It's got the Lexus Multi Stage Hybrid System, comprising of a V6 petrol engine of 3.5 litres with variable valve timing, and two electric motors. In total the hybrid LS can call on 354hp, enough for a claimed 0-62mph of 5.4 seconds.
The transmission is a complicated-sounding Multi Stage Hybrid System with a four-stage shifting device that simulates the feel of driving a ten-speed automatic. This gives a high top gear for motorway driving with optimum economy and refinement, while improved artificial intelligence is said to select the optimum gear ratio for other driving conditions. There is even a manual mode to allow the driver to select and hold gears - a first for a Lexus hybrid.
Is Lexus getting sporty?
It's unlikely, but we won't know until we get a drive. The description sounds promising with the stiffest body ever used in a Lexus and a low centre of gravity. Aluminium is used in the suspension to keep unsprung weight down and the geometry is tuned to improve wheel control and give more precise steering response.
What about the sensible stuff?
A new compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery pack is smaller than the nickel-metal hydride unit in the current LS 600h. That gives the new LS hybrid 25 litres more boot space than its predecessor.
The strong shell is engineered to provide a high degree of passive safety thanks to new bonding technology, high-tensile strength materials and aluminium bumper reinforcement. Active safety is supported by a number of sensors, monitoring the vehicle's surroundings in every direction. These are designed to prevent common types of accidents such as pedestrian collisions, rear-end shunts and lane departure incidents.
And is it luxurious?
The LS 500 was honoured in Detroit with the EyesOn Design Award for excellence in interior design. It celebrates Japanese aesthetics and craftsmanship; Lexus uses the word 'omotenashi', expressing the unique sense of Japanese hospitality to define the LS 500h's cabin. This includes new origami-inspired hand-pleated door trims and hand-crafted designs created by Kiriko artisan glassworkers for the inner door panels.
John Lambert - 9 Mar 2017
To make the driver's life easy, all the information displays are at the same height; so there is no need to change posture behind the wheel. In the front there are 28-way power seats with heating, cooling and massage functions. Back-seat passengers get more room than in any previous LS and there is the option of an extending leg ottoman seat.