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Lexus LS460 PDF Print E-mail

Japanese giant Toyota is pressing ahead with its ambition to achieve world number one status and at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this year, its luxury division, Lexus, stole a march on its rivals when it launched the world’s first eight-speed automatic in its new LS460.

Lexus LS460Powered by an all-new 4.6 litre V8 engine, the new Lexus delivers a healthy 380 bhp (280 kW), with strong peak torque in excess of 500 Nm.  This amount of power enables the luxury saloon to accelerate from rest to the benchmark 100 km/h in under six seconds.

At the Detroit launch, Toyota U.S. president and COO Jim Press said: “The LS460 was designed to expand the definition of the full-size luxury sedan.  It is the product of an advanced production process developed specifically for this vehicle with remarkable levels of accuracy, refinement, precision and craftsmanship.”

The Lexus brand was introduced in 1989 and Mr Press added: “Considering our record for quality over the last 17 years, the LS460 is quite an achievement.”

Lexus LS460Lexus has, over its relatively short production life, established a reputation for quality and, above all, silence on the road.  The cars are remarkably quiet and complete with its quality audio system, the Lexus is one of the few cars where true concert-hall reproduction can be achieved.  The LS460 continues this level of refinement with a 19-speaker Mark Levinson sound system that, says the manufacturer, “provides a true theatre-level entertainment experience”.

Other luxury appointments new to the LS460 include seats covered in one of four tones of semi-aniline leathers matched to one of three co-ordinating wood trims.  Power reclining seats in the rear compartment are equipped with electrically-operated leg rests and even a massage feature.  A fold-away table in matching interior wood veneer offers work space if required.

Lexus LS460Safety is a large part of the technical innovations applied to the new Lexus and includes a variable steering ratio that alters the input required according to vehicle speed. This is connected by an onboard computer to the anti-lock braking system, the electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) which apportions braking force according to load, the traction control and vehicle stability control, all designed to improve both active and passive safety.

Toyota calls the system its Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, or VDIM.  The system has the ability to act in anticipation, activating one or more of the integrated modes before the limits of the car’s dynamic envelope have been reached.  In simple terms the computer reacts far quicker than a driver could and applies corrective action to prevent an accident.

All Lexus saloons now feature a pre-crash safety system, but engineers at the Lexus Development Centre in Aichi, Japan have incorporated new features that anticipate and automatically react to potential dangers, even in the dark.  Millimetre-wave radar and stereo cameras can detect a wide range of obstacles in the path of the LS460, including pedestrians and even animals.  When a collision is a high probability, an alarm will prompt immediate evasive reaction from the driver.  If however the system concludes a collision is unavoidable, the front seat belts will activate the pre-tensioners and the brakes will be automatically applied.

A world first within the LS460 is the adoption of this system at the rear, with millimetre-wave radar installed in the rear bumper to scan for tailgate accidents.  If a collision is imminent, the system activates the front headrests which automatically move forwards and upwards to cushion the occupants’ heads at moment of impact.

Lexus LS460For those that are ecologically aware, there will be a hybrid version of the top-of-the-range Lexus in coming months.  Toyota all but pioneered hybrid technology, although Honda also simultaneously introduced the impractical and underpowered Insight Hybrid which went on sale in the United States and parts of Europe.  It was, however, the Toyota Prius hybrid that became the major seller, with over 450,000 delivered worldwide.

There is already a Lexus SUV hybrid, the RX400h, and, new this year, the Lexus GS450h, the world’s first hybrid luxury sedan.

The Lexus RX400h, a hybrid version of its top-selling RX330 SUV uses similar technology as the highly successful Prius. The Lexus though features a 3.3 litre V6 engine and three 650-volt motor generators, combined with a sealed nickel-metal hydride battery pack.  All this amounts to 268 bhp (197 kW), sufficient to propel the RX400h from rest to 100 km/h in a little over seven seconds.

The second Lexus hybrid, the GS450h luxury sedan is the first hybrid to feature a front-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive.  Power is derived from a 3.5 litre V6 engine, mated to a high output, permanent magnet electric motor. Fuel economy, claims Lexus, is similar to a two-litre vehicle, while CO² emissions are also considerably lower than a comparable conventional sedan.

Although the new Lexus will go on sale in late 2006, currently available in Thailand is the third generation Lexus flagship, the excellent six-speed LS430,. When the LS460 comes on stream it will continue to maintain the Lexus tradition of comfort, relaxed driving and total refinement and will move Toyota a little closer to dominance of the luxury segment in Asia.  While German manufacturers Mercedes-Benz and arch-rival BMW have long enjoyed buoyant sales in this part of the world, Lexus is surely going to make their lives far more difficult in the foreseeable future.


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© 2019 Jeff Heselwood. All rights reserved.
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