Handling agility, performance feel, and comfort. It’s one of the hardest balances to achieve in a vehicle, yet Lexus’s new Global Architecture – Luxury platform meets the challenge.
The GA-L platform made its debut in the LC coupe and now, with a longer wheelbase, underpins the new Lexus LS. Maximising the benefits of a low centre of gravity and weight distribution, the new LS has a wide and low design and is only offered in long wheelbase form.
The platform is the stiffest in Lexus’s history, setting the stage for improved handling, ride smoothness and cabin quietness. At 3,125mm, the wheelbase is 35mm longer than the current LS long wheelbase model.
The latest generation of Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) helps achieve an exceptional ride and handling balance. This system implements co-operative control of all vehicle sub-systems – braking, steering, powertrain and suspension – to control the car’s basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion, as well as yaw, roll and pitch.
Securing optimum control of vehicle behaviour helps gain exceptional ride comfort, better traction and safety, and handling agility. Active anti-roll bars and Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) with independent front and rear steering further enhance the LS’s handling. VDIM can also aid stability when driving on split-friction surfaces, such as icy patches on dry Tarmac.
Lexus engineers used lightweight materials, including ultra-high-tensile steel and aluminium, to carve more than 90kg from the weight of the current LS’s platform and body. These savings, together with the use of a new V6 engine and greater body rigidity, contribute to the car’s more dynamic driving quality.
The new platform lowers the car’s centre of gravity by placing most of the mass, including the engine and passengers, in a more central and lower position in the chassis. Special braces in the engine compartment and stiff aluminium suspension towers are among a series of features that help bolster the strength of key chassis structures.
The LS has a history of outstanding suspension compliance, yet Lexus saw opportunities for gains to be made in this area as well. For example, the multilink suspension has double ball joints on the upper and lower arms to permit control of the smallest movements from driver inputs and road conditions.
Beyond sharing the workload, the double ball joint arrangement helps optimise suspension geometry to increase wheel control and gain more precise steering response with better initial effort. To reduce unspring weight, and thereby promote agility and comfort, aluminium is used extensively in the suspension.
Lexus LS: twin-turbo V6 and 10-speed transmission
An all-new 3.5-litre V6 twin-turbo engine has been designed specifically for the new LS, giving both high power and excellent fuel efficiency.
The engine is indicative of the more dynamic approach being taken by Lexus, offering V8-level power without sacrificing fuel economy and minimising noise and vibration. The output figures of 415bhp and 600Nm of torque represent sizeable gains compared to the V8 unit featured in the current LS. The engine’s long stroke and optimised stroke-to-bore ratio contribute to high-speed combustion and the efficiency of the twin turbos, helping the LS post a projected nought to 62mph acceleration time of 4.5 seconds (with all-wheel drive).
Perhaps more critical is the way Lexus has tuned the engine and transmission to deliver instant acceleration and a constant build-up of torque towards the engine’s red line.
A ladder frame structure in the cylinder block, redesigned engine mounts, electric waste gates and numerous other features help gain the kind of remarkable powertrain smoothness for which Lexus is renowned. The driver will be able to tailor powertrain response and feel by selecting Normal to Sport and Sport+ drive modes, with just enough of the exhaust note being audible to enhance the sporty feel.
The LS marks the first use of a 10-speed automatic transmission in a luxury saloon, the system having made its debut in the new LC coupe. It is a torque converter automatic, yet with shift times that rival those of dual-clutch transmissions. The wide bandwidth afforded by the 10 closely spaced ratios is ideal for all forms of driving, helping provide an optimal gear for all conditions.
The driver can execute shifts using paddle controls, but many will prefer to use the advanced electronic control system, which anticipates the driver’s input. The system chooses the ideal ratio by monitoring acceleration, braking and lateral G-forces.
When accelerating from standstill, the close ratios of the low gears and the shortened shift time enable a rhythmical and exhilarating feel as the car gains speed. The twin-turbo engine’s high torque matches ideally with the higher gear ratios for effortless, relaxed motorway cruising, while very quick downshifts provide direct acceleration with no lag in G response.
Torque converter lock-up is activated in all ranges, except when starting off, to provide a direct feel, while at the same time supporting fuel efficiency.
Lexus LS: outline technical specifications
Vehicle type: Full-size premium luxury saloon
Engine: 3.5-litre V6 with direct fuel injection and twin turbochargers
Transmission: 10-speed automatic
Overall length: 5,235mm
Wheels: 19 or 20-inch
Learn more: World debut of all-new Lexus LS flagship saloon