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The Lexus LS, Japan’s answer to Germany’s luxury limousines, has been given a major overhaul for 2013.

Lexus’s flagship model gains significant updates for the first time since the fourth-generation version was launched in 2007 to boost its market chances against the likes of the BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

The company says more than 50 per cent of the 2013 Lexus LS is new, with only the doors and roof carried over for the sheetmetal and with 3000 mechanical and component changes.

Pricing for the model that goes on sale in February has also been sharpened, with the Lexus LS600h hybrid dropping by the biggest margin – about $30,000 – to $217,900.

The Lexus LS range begins with the LS460 F Sport that starts $1100 lower than before, at $189,900. A Lexus LS460 Sports Luxury, with more features, starts from $192,400.

Lexus has dropped the long-wheelbase version of the LS from the showroom due to decreasing demand, though customers can request the LS600hL via special order.

A few world firsts are also claimed for the new limo, including a Climate Concierge system that combines an ECU, 13 sensors, 20 air outlets and seat and steering wheel heating to either warm occupants as quickly as possible on cold days or cool them rapidly on hot days.

The power of the seat heaters has itself been more than doubled, while ventilation performance has also been improved.

There’s also a GPS-correcting analogue clock for drivers/owners travelling long distances and cross time zones.

A new-look interior builds on the dash design of the Lexus GS sedan, bringing a revised heating/ventilation and audio section, a TFT instrument panel, a 12.3-inch LCD display screen claimed to be the world’s largest in a passenger car, and the second-generation version of the mouse-like Remote Touch menu controller that now features a much-needed click function.

The front passenger seat now comes with an electrically adjustable ottoman.

The top-tier Lexus LS600h F Sport adopts a different interior trim that includes black leather upholstery and black headlining.

Lexus says it has also taken further steps to reduce noise levels in the cabin of what the car maker says is the segment’s quietest car. These include special noise-reducing wheels featuring hollow chamber rims.

Wind noise is also said to have been improved with revised aerodynamics for the new-look body that now features the ‘spindle’ grille that is the signature face of all Lexus models.

Revised construction techniques including laser screw welding and body bonding have improved the LS’s body rigidity by 60 per cent.

The company says this has benefits for ride and handling, with a revised chassis and improved air suspension system also contributing.

The Lexus LS600h F Sport features an additional Active Stabiliser designed to further reduce body lean and improve agility.

Two choices of drivetrain are familiar but have been improved.

The Lexus LS460 is powered by a 4.6-litre V8 that has bumped up 5kW to 285kW, with 493Nm of torque.

Emissions also improve, to 249 grams of CO2 per kilometre, with fuel consumption officially rated at 10.7L/100km.

The LS460 accelerates from 0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds.

The Lexus LS600h continues to be the only hybrid offering in the limo class.

Its petrol-electric drivetrain, which has also been tweaked, produces 327kW of power between the V8 engine and electric motor.

Emissions now fall below 200g/km, at 199g/km, with fuel consumption rated at 8.6L/100km.

It’s two-tenths faster (5.7sec) from standstill to 100km/h than the LS460, though the LS600h, which weighs up to 310kg more than the LS460, takes the same 13.8 seconds to reach 400 metres.

Both LS models also feature a new Drive Mode Select system with five settings that alter characteristics of areas such as engine, gearbox and steering.




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