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Lexus LS line-up detailed, SUV sibling wanted
Hybrid and twin-turbo V6 to be available in Lexus LS from launch
19 Oct 2017
LEXUS Australia will debut its all-new LS flagship at November’s Melbourne Cup ahead of an April on-sale date, however chief executive Peter McGregor has confessed that upper-large sedan buyers were already asking the car-maker for an SUV option.
Speaking with GoAuto at the national media launch of the NX in Adelaide this week, Mr McGregor was confident that the fifth-generation LS would set a new benchmark for the upper-large car class despite the segment’s decline.
He added that he also hoped that there was room for Lexus to expand its SUV line-up further.
“I think we will set our expectations realistically,” Mr McGregor said of the LS.
“There is no doubt in my mind that it (upper-large car) is not a huge volume segment obviously, so it’s very competitive. The competition in that segment from, especially from Mercedes-Benz and BMW and Audi, is outstanding.
“But we are there and I think it is important for a franchise like ours, not just to have volume luxury vehicles but to also have the pinnacle vehicles as well. We need to let people see them and see that portfolio, and the LC does and LS will.”
Asked whether the early foray of Lexus into high-end SUV models with the LX570 could pave the way for more passenger car-based versions given the expansion into that territory by the likes of the Bentley Bentayga and Porsche Cayenne, Mr McGregor replied: “I’m encouraging our planning areas on a global basis to consider how they expand the SUV segments.
“I think our customer base is well used to us offering a good range, but the competition continues (to expand), and we have to compete.”
Mr McGregor added that upper-large sedan buyers have “absolutely” come to Lexus asking instead for an SUV product, and he did not expect the SUV boom to end anytime soon either at low- or high-end pricing brackets.
“The same trends you will see in the market where the mix between sedan and SUV is shifting to SUV, it’s happening in our franchise as well,” he continued.
“(And) I think the US is a lead indicator.
“We might be at about 60 per cent SUV (global total percentage of sales) at the moment, in order of magnitude, I think the US is about 70 per cent and I suspect there is a little way to go still in Australia.”
Given his departure from Lexus Australia by Christmas, when the brand shifts with Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA) from its current Sydney office to Melbourne, Mr McGregor pinned an SUV expansion across all segments as his greatest hope for the future success of the local division.
Lexus Australia has confirmed its fifth-generation LS will from April launch with a duo of model grades – F Sport or Sports Luxury – and each will be available with a choice of two powertrains, including a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 petrol or 3.5-litre non-turbo V6/electric motor combination.
Where the new petrol engine debuts with 310kW and a 4.5-second 0-100km/h claim, the hybrid – which already made its debut in the LC sportscar – has a system output of 264kW and a 5.4s claim to the standing start benchmark.
Mr McGregor said that he is “expecting a good response” to the vehicle he described as “a new flagship sedan built on the leading levels of powertrain, smoothness, ride quietness, craftsmanship, attention to detail and dependability that has made the LS name famous”.
He listed a coupe-style shape, with a six-window design for the first time, and new-found driver focus complementing the luxurious cabin, as reasons the new LS would find greater appeal in the market.
“The new LS is based on the extended version of the Lexus rear-wheel-drive platform, rewarding owners with a more dynamic driving experience,” he stated.
“The powertrain delivers exhilarating performance. (The twin-turbo V6) puts more power and torque on the road than the current V8 while improving fuel economy. It’s more responsive and more rewarding (and) the LS500h is also capable of running up to 140km/h with petrol engine shut off.
“And as well as being more of a driver’s car, Lexus also allows you to hinge on the rear seat, heating, cooling and massage options to create a nice welcoming environment.
“New sound suppression methods ensure utterly quiet cruising with active noise control cancelling out the noise frequencies, allowing, if you will, occupants to immerse themselves in comfortable music.”
Following its public debut at the Lexus Design Pavilion of the annual Melbourne Cup horse racing event held at Flemington, the new LS will then head into dealerships for customer clinic events.
“We’ve done some preview work but probably the first time that we’re actually going to preview it to the market will be at the Melbourne Cup, and then after that, probably before the launch, we will give some opportunity, dealer by dealer for their customer base to have a look at the car,” he confirmed.
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