This is the first LS that moves away from a traditional three-box silhouette, preferring instead the lower, curvier outline of a four-door grand tourer. In its details – those supermodel-like high cheekbones and eye-catching styling lines flowing outwards and backwards from the dramatic ‘spindle’ grille – the car is clearly courting a design-savvy buyer. Such ambitious design doesn’t usually come about without technical revolution, though.
Built on the same GA-L large car platform as that used by the LC coupé, the new LS measures up quite differently from its predecessor; a 3125mm wheelbase is 35mm longer even than that of the previous LS in ‘stretched’ form, while the new car also has a 15mm lower roofline and a bonnet that’s 30mm closer to the road.
The car’s construction mixes aluminium and high-strength steel, as is the norm among luxury saloons. In terms of technical content, there’s little you might want on your next luxury four-door that the LS doesn’t offer – until you progress under the bonnet, that is.
Suspension is all-independent, delivered by what Lexus calls ‘high-mount multi-link’ configurations at both ends, and is by steel coil springs and adaptive dampers on the entry-level model, while adaptive air suspension is standard on other variants.
The LS is rear-wheel drive only at entry level, but four-wheel drive is optional with mid-range Luxury trim and standard on the Premier model. The F Sport model, meanwhile, adopts four-wheel steering and a speed-dependent variable-ratio steering rack in an effort to give it greater agility.
At present, at least as far as British buyers are concerned, there is only one choice of powertrain: Lexus’s ‘multi-stage hybrid’. This mates a 295bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine to a 177bhp electric motor, with an epicyclic power split and a four-speed automatic gearbox mounted in series within a continuously variable transmission to make it, in effect, a 10-speed auto.
The LS’s lithium ion drive battery allows for very short-range zero-emissions running only and brings the LS’s lab-tested CO2 output down to 147g/km for a rear-driven car, or 161g/km for a four-wheel-drive LS as we’ve elected to test it. And by the latter figure, the Lexus represents only a narrow emissions improvement over its closest rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz.