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Hybrid Lexus LS doesn’t spare the horses

Sure bet: The Lexus LS gets the F Sport treatment in a facelift to debut at the Melbourne Cup carnival in Melbourne.

New Lexus LS hurdles the motor show and gallops straight for the Melbourne Cup

20 Aug 2012

LEXUS Australia has confirmed the range-topping LS600h F Sport for Australia, saying the sporty all-wheel-drive 327kW hybrid limo will get its first public airing at the Melbourne Cup carnival in November.

This means the LS with its new-look ‘spindle grille’ will miss the Australian International Motor Show only two weeks earlier, instead going direct to potential customers in the Lexus marquee at Flemington’s famous Birdcage, where Lexus revealed the mid-size GS last year.

The facelifted LS range will comprise four models – LS460, long-wheelbase LS600h L, LS460 F Sport and LS600h F Sport.

This is the first time the F Sport treatment has been extended to the flagship LS in Australia, where the Japanese luxury car importer plans to have 11 ‘F’-branded vehicles on sale by the end of this year.

The arrival of the new LS is set to reignite the nameplate in Australia, where the bid sedan has been all but off the market this year, with just nine sales in seven months.

Compared with the standard LS models, the 600h F Sport is lowered by 10mm, sitting on a sports-tuned air suspension and stopped by six-piston Brembo front brakes.

31 center imageIt will also get active stabliliser bar technology to adjust body control on the move – a first for Lexus in Australia.

Externally, LS F Sport models are differentiated by F Sport bumpers front and rear, 19-inch alloy wheels, mesh grille and fog lamps.

Inside, the F Sport touches include 16-way electrically adjustable sports seats embossed with the F Sport logo, dimple-leather sports steering wheel and gear selector, aluminium pedals and scuff plates.

The petrol-electric hybrid powertrain is a carryover from the current long-wheelbase 600h L, marrying the 5.0-litre 290kW V8 with a 165kW electric motor for a total peak power of 327kW at the wheels.

The current LS600h L is said to cover the 0-100km/h sprint in 6.3 seconds, and the new short-wheelbase F Sport version should eclipse that.

Although the latest LS is a mere makeover of the current model, new body bonding techniques, extra bracing and additional high-strength steel have delivered a 60 per cent more rigid body.

Lexus says this rigidity combines with changes to steering hardware and software to deliver a 20 per cent improvement in steering feel and response over the previous model.

Pricing is on ice until closer to launch, but the LS range will be rolled out progressively over the last quarter of this year and first quarter of 2013.

Lexus Australia chief executive Tony Cramb said the new LS F Sport models continued the marque’s renewed commitment to engaging and enjoyable vehicles.

“The LS F Sport model enhances a vehicle that was recognised as the world’s best, adding greater driving dynamics to vehicles synonymous with being comfortable and quiet,” he said.

“What better way to launch the new LS range than at the Melbourne Cup Carnival – it encapsulates everything LS stands for design, innovation, performance and, most importantly, best of breed.

“LS600h F Sport becomes the flagship of our F Sport range and continues our march towards offering 11 F Sport models by the end of this year.”

The new Lexus will go on display at the Lexus marquee at Flemington on Derby Day (Saturday, November 3), remaining until Emirates Stakes Day on November 10.

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1st of January 1970

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