The new 2021 Lexus LS 500 is a remarkable result of the marque’s engineers obsessively poring over the smallest details from powertrain and suspension components to tyre construction. The design and technology changes reinforce its status in the range and have been achieved by applying these meticulous improvements to renew the benchmark for refinement and quietness, while beyond that, leveraging incredible Japanese craftsmanship.
Significant engineering changes were dictated by the new Lexus Driving Signature initiative, a philosophy that applies detailed tuning and component upgrades to deliver a new standard of vehicle control, balance and driver confidence.
An unrivalled blend of virtues continues to position the LS at the forefront of the luxury sedan segment as the ultimate expression of the Lexus philosophy. Lexus Chief Branding Officer and Master Driver Akio Toyoda said the LS – in all its generations – is ‘a model that gives rise to transformation through the spirit of constant innovation and by providing new technologies and value for the times.’
Since its global debut in 1989, the Lexus LS has evolved as a pioneer: the first vehicle in the world with both an adjustable steering column and driver airbag, and the world’s first hybrid V8.
Lexus has enhanced the opulent seating of the LS to support the under-skin improvements. Ultra-plush yet supportive seats now feature deeper stitch points and low-resilience urethane for the padding, with vibration absorption measures and softer positioning contributing to even greater comfort.
Long renowned for impeccable fit-and-finish, the highly acclaimed interior design of the new LS also benefits from upgrades that leverage the best of Japanese artisan craft and high-precision production techniques. Interior trim colours include Black as well as Crimson and Black. The LS also adopts a forward-mounted positioning for the 12.3-inch infotainment screen, with the addition of touch-display functionality joining the Lexus Remote Touch Interface for the first time.
Capitalising on the svelte coupe silhouette of this fifth-generation LS, the updated model gains a fresh appearance with newly-designed, compact, three-bulb headlamps that feature an accentuated ‘L’ design.
The deep headlamps and squared-off sub-radiator grilles positioned to the outside help to advance the confident nature of the vehicle’s stance. The grille mesh is now in dark metallic finish and trim within the rear combination lamps has been switched from chrome to piano-black, further enhancing the vehicle’s sense of presence.
Lexus designers penned the coupe-like silhouette and a dramatic rendition of the Lexus signature spindle grille that shows even greater intricacy in the design. The F Sport’s more dynamic image is distinguished by the garnish for the sub-radiator grilles wrapping around to the sides, and the adoption of a dedicated colour for the spindle grille and 20-inch wheels.
New exterior paint colours are available across the range and comprise Lustrous Silver and Sonic Iridium, which continue the Lexus tradition of developing innovative silver paint finishes. Interior trim colour options for the F Sport model grade include White, Black and White and Flare Red.
While the focus of the F Sport model is on driver dynamics, the LS 500 is more luxury-biased and includes features such as the vibrating seat massage function for the front and rear seats as well as front and rear seat ventilation among others.
A moon roof which opens externally is standard on both grades.
The 310kW 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine in the LS 500 benefits from greater responsiveness while reducing noise and the earlier production of engine torque leads to greater acceleration response from lower speeds in particular. Improved shift timing for the 10-speed automatic transmission, and a wider acceleration range for each gear, results in less-frequent downshifts and improved refinement. Quietness has also been improved by lowering the maximum available engine speed during the take-off phase of acceleration.
The new LS also adopts Active Noise Control and Engine Sound Enhancement tuning, while a revised engine-mount interior, alters damping characteristics to further reduce powertrain noise and vibration. A series of suspension changes further complement the hushed new engine and transmission tuning measures while enhancing handling capability.
And a newly-developed solenoid for the standard Adaptive Variable Suspension reduces damping force, aided by reduced stiffness of the run-flat tyres to create even more harmonious and quieter ride quality.
Its 3.5-litre V6 engine was designed specifically for the new LS to provide both high power and excellent fuel efficiency. It’s indicative of the more dynamic approach taken by Lexus, offering V8-level power without sacrificing fuel economy whilst minimising noise and vibration.
The LS is rapid; output figures are 310kW and 600Nm of torque at 6000rpm. The engine’s long stroke and optimised stroke-to-bore ratio contribute to high-speed combustion while the efficiency of the twin turbos, help the LS post a projected 0-100 km/h acceleration time of 5 seconds. For both the F Sport and Luxury variant, the driver is able to tailor powertrain response and feel by selecting Normal, Eco, Sport and Sport S+ drive modes, with just enough of the exhaust note being audible to enhance the sporty feel.
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 the acceleration, braking and lateral G-forces.
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. Top speed for the LS is electronically governed to 250km/h. Fuel consumption is listed as 10 litres per 100 kilometres.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR LS?
Lexus is committed to the reduction of CO2 emission and much like sister-brand Toyota, is firmly on the path to carbon-neutrality. Lexus’ vision is to have a hybrid option for each model they sell where possible. The LS has always been associated with smooth, refined and effortless power and these qualities will be further strengthened by amplifying the contribution to performance made by the lithium-ion high-voltage battery. Customers can look out for the LS 500 Hybrid introduction later this year –details about this model will be released when officially launched.
The Lexus LS 500 Luxury retails for R2 204,200, while the LS 500 F Sport has a price tag of R2 397,900. The LS has best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. The vehicle’s service intervals are at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.