When we think of luxury car marques, we tend to skew towards brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar or Bentley even. However, if you’re not one for the status quo, then there’s always Lexus. The premium Japanese marque has just launched its all-new fifth generation luxury sedan—the 2018 Lexus LS in Malaysia.
Three decades ago, the luxury arm of Toyota rocked the world with the first LS, the alternative to more mainstream offerings. The goal was always about delivering luxury, craftsmanship and performance, aside from pricing it to kill too.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since the fourth-generation LS was launched. It literally took Lexus a decade to reimagine its most luxurious product yet—the 2018 Lexus LS.
Is it worth the wait? You bet.
From the get go, it’s the boldest, most grandeur yet, with top notch performance to boot. The radical design is based on the Lexus LC 500 luxury grand tourer, with its signature menacing front grille and sporty sweeping lines.
In fact, the LS has more in common with the LC than you’d expect. The LC itself was based on the sexy LF-FC concept from 2012.
It’s built on the same high-performance Global Architecture – Luxury (GA-L) platform as the LC. The GA-L platform is a front engine, rear-wheel drive platform that’s meant to provide lower overall mass, improved front/rear wheel distribution and a low centre of gravity.
It’s the stiffest chassis in Lexus history, and will be the platform all rear-wheel drive models will use in coming years.
When it comes to luxury vehicles, we tend not to talk too much about technical specs. And that makes sense because we what we really want to know is how comfortable the ride is, how plush the interior is, what kind of audio system is built in.
That said, performance is an essential part of the entire experience.
The big change with the fifth generation LS is the engine. Gone is the naturally-aspirated V8 lump of old, and in comes the all-new 3.5-litre V6 with twin turbochargers. The undersquare engine is compact and efficient, offering V8-level power output: 310kW/415bhp with 600Nm of torque.
The new turbocharged powertrain includes a special version of Lexus’ D4S direct injection system and this is coupled with the first ever-ever 10-speed automatic transmission for a premium passenger car, which first debuted on the LC 500.
The transmission is a torque converter automatic, with shift times that rival dual-clutch transmissions. It uses artificial intelligence transmission logic (AI-Shift Control) to anticipate drivers’ input by monitoring acceleration, braking and lateral-g forces.
What does all this mean? Remarkable smoothness for all driving situations.
It is highly unlikely that you’d be at the wheel of the LS because you should be sitting “like a boss” in the back seat. But in case you plan to, the LS has steering wheel shifter paddles, so you can wrestle manual control of gearshifts if you want to.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, another leading trait of the LS range is safety. The latest LS continues its leadership in safety technologies, spearheaded by the Lexus Safety System+. The safety system, aimed at reducing traffic fatalities, consists of a Pre-Collision system (PCS), Lane Departure Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Alert, Adaptive High-Beam System and Lane Keep Assist.
In cabin, additional active safety technologies namely the Panoramic View Monitor and Blind Spot Monitor alert the driver to collision risks when parking, and provide a view of surrounding areas when the car is manoeuvring or cornering.
Occupants in the LS are protected by up to 12 SRS airbags including side and seat cushion airbags at the rear.
For pedestrian safety, Lexus engineers have designed, and integrated special sensors installed at the front of the car. These sensors detect impact with a pedestrian, then a mechanism pops up the bonnet to cushion the pedestrian to reduce injuries.
The LS certainly impresses under the hood, but what draws you from the start is its sporty appearance. There’s no luxury sedan quite like it, is there? The S-Class? Status quo. The BMW 7 Series? Boring.
Lexus enlisted the expertise of Japan’s master craftsmen under the tutelage of visionary Chief Engineer Toshio Asahi and Chief Designer Koichi Suga, regarded as guardians of the ancient artisan philosophy.
The exterior is dramatic and bold, and who can ignore the unique mesh grille with the signature spindle design?
The sleek silhouette even looks fast standing still and from the front you’d mistake it for some sort of sports coupe.
Inside is where the LS truly shines. Lexus’ Takumi craftsmen fashioned the interior with origami-inspired material designs. From the tactile, three-dimensional handcrafted pleats on the door trim that took four years to develop. To the ambient lighting reminiscent of Japanese lanterns.
Also, the intricate ornamentation based on traditional Japanese Kiriko glass techniques, and not forgetting the grain pattern of Art Woo organic trim.
The spirit of Omotenashi (Japanese spirit of hospitality) is further expressed through its premium audio system, designed in partnership with audio expert, Mark Levinson. The custom audio package features “Quantum Logic Immersion Technology” which employs an astonishing 23 speakers and 16-channel amplifier. I haven’t heard it up close yet, but I’m expecting a sound stage like a concert hall.
The 2×2 seat layout is lavish, with the Executive variant offering an Ottoman. There’s more legroom than any previous-generation LS. Additionally, the seat behind the front passenger can be power-reclined up to 48 degrees and raised up to 24 degrees to assist rear-seat passenger exit.
By the way, the front seats are power-adjustable up to 28 ways and 22 ways for the rear seats.
Pricing and availability
In Malaysia, Lexus offers three variants—the LS 500 Luxury, LS 500 Executive and LS 500h Executive with Lexus Hybrid Drive. There’s up to 11 exterior colour choices, and six interior colours/trim to choose from.
Two new colours are available: Manganese Luster and Sonic Agate.
Official pricing for the 2018 Lexus LS:
- LS 500 Luxury – MYR799,000
- LS 500 Executive – MYR999,000
- LS 500h Executive – MYR1,459,000
All prices are OTR without insurance, including a comprehensive five-year, unlimited mileage warranty.
For more info on the Lexus LS, visit www.lexus.com.my.
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