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by Tim Beissmann

The Lexus LS has been unveiled at an exclusive event in California, revealing the updated styling and specifications of the Japanese luxury brand’s refreshed flagship model.

Lexus says the upgrades to the 2013 Lexus LS represent one of the most significant mid-life updates in the limousine’s history, with approximately 3000 component changes and improvements over the previous model, including three world firsts and 14 firsts for the brand.

Headlining the upgrades is the comprehensively redesigned interior, which sports a new dashboard and centre console layout and technology that takes a step forward from the recently released Lexus GS range.

The LS features a 12.3-inch display screen that is linked to two controllers – a second-generation Lexus Remote Touch device and a new Drive Mode Select system – reducing the number of buttons and switches on the centre console for a cleaner appearance.

New to the console is an advanced analogue clock that is linked to the car’s GPS system, allowing it to be automatically updated to the correct time as the car crosses time zones.

The new Lexus Climate Concierge system combines 13 sensors to monitor all areas of the cabin, with the front and rear seat heaters and coolers, steering wheel heater, and cabin heating and cooling all managed by a central computer for optimum passenger comfort.

The high-tech cabin is complemented by the Advanced Illumination System, which features a selection of lamps and LEDs to greet occupants even before the car is unlocked, and activating and fading in sequence to provide “the most pleasing light”.

All models benefit from a 450-watt 19-speaker Mark Levinson audio system with 7.1-channel surround sound that is supported by a nine-inch rear-seat entertainment screen and a DVD and Blu-ray player.

The new steering wheel (now with three spokes instead of four) is 10mm smaller in diameter for a sportier feel and enhanced engagement with the vehicle’s dynamics.

Six interior colour schemes can be selected along with a number of new ornamental trim inserts including Walnut wood grain, bamboo and aluminium.

As revealed in a number of teasers and leaks from the past week, the 2013 Lexus LS sports an aggressive new exterior design headlined by the brand’s signature spindle grille.

Every panel (with the exception of the roof, rear-quarter panel and doors) has been redesigned either to enhance its visual appeal or functionality or to reduce wind noise.

The LS460 variants feature bi-xenon headlights while the LS600hL hybrid scores full LED headlamps. All models get LED indicators and L-shaped light tube daytime running lights, along with full-LED tail-lights with a shadowy tint.

The front guards, bumpers and bonnet have been restyled to give the LS a lower, wider appearance, while the rear bumper and boot lid are also updated from the old model.

Sports Luxury variants score 19-inch hollow-rim alloy wheels that reduce resonance of the rim while driving, which Lexus says helps make the new LS the quietest car in its class.

New laser screw welding, adhesive body bonding and structural bracing construction techniques have increased overall body rigidity by 60 per cent, providing a more stable base for suspension improvements, all of which improve the car’s safety, comfort and NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) levels.

Lexus says its engineers have developed a dynamics package for the 2013 LS that delivers a flatter ride, improved steering accuracy and turn-in response, and more immediate braking power.

The enhanced Drive Mode Select system incorporates five switchable driving modes: Comfort, Eco, Normal, Sport S and Sport S+; with each one designed to deliver a unique combination of efficiency, comfort, performance and handling.

The all-new LS460 F Sport, which is available for the first time in the LS line-up, takes the performance theme to a new level.

The F Sport’s air suspension lowers the car’s body height by 10mm, and joins a torque-sensing limited-slip rear differential, six-piston Brembo front brake callipers, and an Active Stabiliser system for enhanced body control and steering precision in the unique dynamic package.

Also specific to the LS460 F Sport are steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, automatic throttle blipping on downshifts, and optimised engine intake and exhaust systems designed to deliver a sportier note under load.

F Sport variants benefit from a number of unique styling elements, including a black mesh front grille, 19-inch alloy wheels, electric sports seats, perforated leather steering wheel and aluminium pedals and scuff plates.

The safety systems in the 2013 Lexus LS include Pre-Collision Safety with automatic emergency braking, a new blind-spot monitor that operates from lower speeds (now down to 16km/h), and automatic high beam assist.

There are changes under the bonnet too. The LS460’s 4.6-litre V8 petrol engine now produces 288kW of power and 498Nm of torque, making it 8kW and 5Nm more powerful than before.

The LS600hL teams a 290kW/522Nm 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine with a pair of electric motors for quicker acceleration and better fuel efficiency than the old model.

Lexus Australia is targeting a late 2012 launch for the upgraded LS line-up, with full local specifications and pricing details to be revealed closer to its showroom debut.

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