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by Matt Brogan

Lexus has unveiled its full hybrid flagship, the LS 600h, at Frankfurt overnight with the car boasting a range of technological and styling improvements for the 2010 model year.

Redesigned seating, updated equipment levels, a new ECO driving mode and revised brakes see the LS 600h, and long wheelbase LS 600hL, achieve advances in both comfort and driving dynamics.

ECO mode aims to modify throttle action and the performance of the air-conditioning system to support fuel-efficient driving, in much the same way as the system featured in Toyota’s new Prius.


Repackaging of the full hybrid system’s battery into two sections of six and 14 modules has reduced its overall size and freed up more luggage space in the boot. Reducing the size of the rear air conditioning unit has increased boot capacity by approximately 35 litres.

The Hybrid Drive system has also been revised to meet strict new Euro V exhaust emissions standards, but with no change to the car’s performance: the combination of the 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine and 165kW electric motor produces a maximum 327kW and 520Nm of torque, giving 0-100km/h acceleration in 6.3 seconds. CO2 emissions are 219g/km and combined cycle fuel economy remains at 7.7 litres per 100km.


The LS 600h is newly equipped with larger, 380mm ventilated front disc brakes with six-piston callipers, rotors and pads developed jointly with specialist manufacturer Brembo. The pads are designed for quieter performance with less vibration and give fade-free high-speed stopping power.

Outside the revised model is distinguished visually by a new four-bar grille and front bumper with redesigned air intakes and foglamps. The headlamps have a new running light design and are finished in Lexus hybrid blue, giving the car a distinctive appearance over its conventionally powered siblings.


In profile, the car has a new one-piece rocker moulding and new door mirrors that incorporate twin LED turn signals and puddle lamps, with chrome highlights.

The cabin houses a revised instrument binnacle featuring a new, full colour TFT LCD display while a new instrument panel design features a three-ring analogue dial with a central speedometer, a tachometer and coolant temperature gauge to the left, and a fuel gauge and hybrid system indicator to the right. The display in the centre of the speedo can be customised to show vehicle information, turn-by-turn navigation instructions and hybrid system status.


The range of interior colour and trim combinations includes a new light grey semi-aniline leather upholstery. Both front seats are equipped with new, inflator operated active headrests. Activated by a signal from the airbag ECU in the event of a rear impact, the inflator slides a piston into the headrest, unlocking a mechanism that projects the headrest forwards and upwards, reducing the risk of whiplash injury.

The driver’s seat also has a new return/away function. Linked to a similar function that moves the steering wheel, this automatically slides the seat back by up to 50mm when the driver unbuckles the seatbelt and turns the engine off. The seat returns to its selected driving position once the car is started again. For the new model year the LS 600h is available with the Lexus Rear Seat Relaxation Pack for the first time in conjunction with a five-seat configuration.


In common with its sister Lexus models, the LS 600h is adopting a new hard disc drive (HDD) navigation system with the 40GB capacity. The 19-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System fitted as standard  in the LS 600h gives 7.1-channel surround sound on selected CDs and DVDs. It is now DAB ready (DAB audio will be available as a centre-fitted accessory) and provides USB and audio jack plug connection for fully controlled use of portable music players, and Bluetooth with an audio streaming function.

It also provides a new “sound library” function, using the navigation system’s HDD to transfer and store music files from CD up to 10GB capacity – the equivalent of about 2,000 songs.


The revised LS 600h features a new, automatic high beam system. A camera sensor in the rear view mirror detects oncoming traffic, street lamps and vehicles travelling ahead and automatically switches the headlamp high beam on and off according to driving conditions.

Pricing and local specification details will be revealed closer to the launch.

With Lexus UK