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2017 Detroit Motor Show: Lexus LS flagship builds in a bit of Tesla

By Byron Mathioudakis, 12 Jan 2017 Events

2017 Detroit Motor Show: Lexus LS flagship builds in a bit of Tesla

More coupe-like design, better dynamics and semi-autonomous tech – all Tesla staples – should give Lexus’s flagship an edge

THE Tesla Model S has helped shape Lexus’s new luxury flagship, the Japanese luxury carmaker has revealed.

LS chief engineer Toshio Asahi name-checked the Tesla liftback as one of the products influencing what the fifth-generation limousine would look, drive, and behave like – particularly in terms of its sleeker design and newfound dynamic athleticism, as well as future semi-autonomous driver-assist technology yet to be announced for the range.

Asahi, speaking at the Detroit Motor Show, said the new LS that will replace the decade-old current series in the first quarter of next year was also shaped by the usual benchmarks since its development program kicked off in 2011.

2018-Lexus -LS-500-at -Detroit -Motor -Show“All the main competitors in this segment were considered – obviously BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and Audi A8 – but in addition to that, we also benchmarked the Tesla (Model S) as well,” Mr Asahi told Wheels.

“We also benchmarked the Tesla’s autonomous technology for that, as well as the Mercedes E-Class’ system.

2018-Lexus -LS-500-at -Detroit -Auto -Show“With the LS, obviously the key element is quietness, comfort and also quality – these have always have been key elements that have to be maintained. But with this new LS, we wanted to add more driving pleasure as our flagship model.

“We also wanted to incorporate more emotion and excitement – not only in terms of driving pleasure, but also in the design… that will put it beyond its competitors.”

2018-Lexus -LS-500-interiorAsahi said the all-new GA-L (Global Architecture – Luxury) platform that will underpin the LS would allow numerous powertrain options, giving Lexus the flexibility to respond to shifting consumer requirements and market demand.

So far, Lexus has only confirmed the 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 for the 2018 LS, delivering 310kW and 600Nm to the rear wheels via a class-first 10-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.

2018-Lexus -LS-500-interior -rear -seatsThe closely related LC 500 coupe’s circa-351kW/539Nm 5.0-litre V8 and the LC 500h’s 264kW 3.5-litre atmo V6 petrol/electric hybrid system also should slot into the big Japanese limousine.

“As you know, the GA-L platform was initially used for the LC, and now with this LS, so it does have flexibility,” Asahi said.

“Strictly speaking, from a platform point of view, that (the LC’s V6 hybrid and V8 fitting into LS) would be feasible.”

More information on the new LS will be revealed closer to its Australian launch