ON THE ROAD- IAN LYNAS PREVIEWS THE NEW LEXUS LS 500h
Like many others at the time, I was almost shocked when the Lexus LS burst on the motoring scene back in the late eighties; a large luxury saloon with low noise levels and very high comfort levels. It really was the start of something big- particularly on the other side of the Atlantic. I recall an overnight stay in Dublin and I was driving a Toyota Yaris and I encountered two Americans who just happened to work for Lexus, they were somewhat amazed by, as they called it. the “little Toyota” and from them I got the sense of just how popular Lexus was in their country. For a number of years the LS was known as the Celsior in the home market and, always an LS in Ireland.
The 2021 Lexus LS 500h is a car which benefits from design and technology advances that deliver even greater refinement, comfort and safety and the changes reinforce its status as the flagship saloon in Lexus’s range of self-charging hybrids. Exterior styling changes, a reshaped front bumper and a dark metallic finish for the inner surfaces of the spindle grille mesh are included in the changes. The headlamps are housed in slimmer, triple-projector units that accommodate the new BladeScan system and the daytime running lights are arranged in a new “L” motif. New contrast black and bright machined finish 20 inch alloy wheels are featured on the Takumi grade model. Smooth, refined and effortless power has been further strengthened by amplifying the contribution to performance made by the lithium-ion high-voltage battery. To drivability, the level of assistance the battery provides to the electric motor and its operating range have been increased, particularly in “normal” driving, applying moderate pressure on the accelerator pedal and only low G-forces are generated. This means acceleration is smoother and more linear and less effort is needed to move faster. That makes for more comfortable driving around town, on winding roads and uphill gradients. Because the battery is providing greater support, the petrol engine can run at lower rpm, which makes for even quieter operation.
Comfort levels have been raised with a series of technical and design adjustments. These include changes to the Adaptive Variable Suspension on the entry-level LS grade, more rigid anti-roll bars and a reduction in vertical stiffness of the run-flat tyre. In the cabin, new padding has been added to the seat cushions and the upholstery has deeper seams to improve body-holding performance and absorb vibrations. Lexus takes all the effort out of parking with its first fully automated Advanced Park System, provided as a standard feature on the LS Takumi. It is also the first Lexus system and the first in the luxury car segment to have a memory function that will recognise and store details of spaces the driver uses regularly, such as home or office, making the parking process even easier. Parking assistance technology works by controlling steering, throttle, brakes and transmission to execute safe and accurate manoeuvres. As well as being smooth and precise, it also operates promptly, certainlyquicker than systems on competitor models. It will also operate regardless of whether the space is marked out with lines, or if there are no adjacent vehicles. The new model adopts the BladeScan Adaptive High-beam System first seen on the Lexus RX luxury SUV. Fitted as standard to the F Sport and Takumi models, and included in the LS Premium Pack option. The 2021 model is equipped with the Lexus’s latest generation multimedia system, with increased functionality and HMI changes for more intuitive operation. A new 12.3-inch touchscreen is located on top of the instrument panel and positioned closer to the driver so that it is within easier reach. The functions now include smartphone integration using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, so the driver can access their favourite apps for navigation, entertainment/information and messaging through the car’s multimedia system. The touchscreen functions include a new call-up switch to give instant access to frequently used controls, such as adjustment of the seat and steering wheel heaters.
Lexus has developed advanced paint technology to produce a new shade, Lunar Silver that provides a flawless finish with a near mirror-like shine. This can be combined with a new Nishijin and Haku interior trim option (Takumi grade) that uses traditional Japanese metalwork and weaving techniques for ornamentation applied to the inner door panels and handle surrounds. Little things often impress about a car and for me the quality of the in car entertainment system which delivers the maximum aided by in no small way the very low cabin noise.