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New Lexus LS by the end of this year

Spindle shot: This is how Lexus has teased the front-end styling of its new LS luxury limousine.

Next LS limo to grace Sydney show in October as Lexus prepares Paris show-stopper

28 Jun 2012

LEXUS will officially launch its latest LS limousine to media in San Jose, California, on July 30 before its public world debut at the Paris show in September, where the Japanese luxury brand is also preparing to unveil a show-stopper.

Following its global launch and Paris debut, the next stop for the LS will be at the Sydney motor show in October before an anticipated Australian launch around the time of the Melbourne Cup in November, where event sponsor Lexus gave the GS its first Australian outing last year.

Lexus first provided a glimpse of the new LS at the Detroit motor show in January, with a darkened front-on shot revealing the limo’s interpretation of the ‘spindle grille’ family face with what are either circular vents or arrays of LEDs inside the headlights.

Lexus Australia marketing manager Peter Evans told GoAuto that, in addition to the new LS, the Paris show will “be worth looking at from our perspective”.

Indicating how important the still-secret reveal will be to the Australian market, he said the Australian arm hopes to send CEO Tony Cramb or another executive to Paris to “manage the opportunities” at the show and conduct interviews.

However, Mr Evans was reticent to provide more details as his employers would be “really upset if I blew the cover on what is going to happen at Paris”.

The mystery unveil could be a product to fill one of the gaps in the Lexus line-up, such as a compact SUV or sports coupe – both of which Mr Evans said are “on the horizon and under consideration”.

31 center imageFrom top: Lexus Australia marketing manager Peter Evans Lexus LF-Xh concept CT200h hatch LF-LC sportscar ES sedan.

He said Lexus “globally recognises the opportunity” of a sub-RX SUV, although he thought such a product was more important in the European, Australian and Japanese markets than the brand’s core US market.

A compact SUV would be big news for Lexus Australia, which has just launched a front-drive, four-cylinder version of its RX as a way of providing a product priced to compete with models from the next size down such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.

This move suggests a long wait for a true compact luxury SUV competitor, so a production version of the LF-LC hybrid coupe that emerged at Detroit is also a possibility – and Mr Evans spoke of the potential for two coupes in the Lexus line-up.

Another likely unveil for Paris is a hot hatch variant of the CT200h and Mr Evans revealed its arrival is “a matter of when rather than if – or rather when and what because there are a few alternatives”.

“I am quietly optimistic based on the feedback and the whispers I’ve had,” he said.

The rumoured BMW M5-rivalling GS F sedan could also make an appearance – and Mr Evans said he is “certain the skunkworks is studying the options on how they’d do it”.

Lead engineer for the GS, Yoshihiko Kanamori, has previously spoken about the potential for shoehorning a detuned version of the LFA’s 4.8-litre V10 engine into a GS and indicated that Lexus “has some plan for the next F model”.

Asked whether Lexus would bow to the same pressure that has prompted BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz to downsize their flagship performance V8s and resort to turbocharging, Mr Evans pointed to the experience of journalists who told him they struggled to match those cars’ official fuel consumption figures in the real world.

He also referred to a preference for the instant throttle response that comes with naturally aspirated engines, and the ability to properly modulate the throttle without being “overtaken by boost coming down the pipe”.

Mr Evans revealed that “early publicity” for the third generation of the volume-selling IS sedan will begin towards the end of this year, suggesting a Detroit reveal in the New Year.

The front-drive ES sedan, which sits between the IS and GS in the Lexus range overseas, is still under consideration for Australia, but the company has to first work out whether it has the engineering resources to adapt it for Australian Design Rule (ADR) certification.

Mr Evans said the potential volume would have to be taken into account and suggested the ES – which has been confirmed for right-hand-drive production – would have to provide sufficient profit margins for the “cost recovery of those internal (engineering) resources”.

On the other hand, he said existing ES owners “are a loyal troop who are still contacting us asking when we are releasing a new one” and that the car’s packaging provides more interior and luggage space than the GS while being of a similar size.

“It is also styled quite differently it is less muscular, less aggressive, a little bit more sophisticated and elegant,” he said.

“It’ll appeal to an older, empty-nest audience as opposed to a 45-year-old audience that’s certainly been the experience in America.”

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