Lexus’ flagship luxury sedan gets new driver assistance tech and improved refinement, due in Singapore by the end of this year
Lexus has announced a mid-life facelift of its flagship LS luxury sedan, with the car set to go on sale in Japan in late 2020. Singapore sales will follow shortly after, but local pricing and details have not yet been finalised.
The current LS was introduced in 2017, and the facelift helps it stay up to date with its German luxe-barges competitors like the BMW 7 Series (which received its own facelift last year) and Mercedes-Benz S-Class (which is due for a full model change later this year).
The main highlights of the updated LS are a subtly revised exterior and interior, some minor chassis tweaks for improved comfort and refinement, and new driver assistance tech that’s powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
The biggest major update on the LS is the introduction of the AI-powered Lexus Teammate suite of driving assistance systems. The system will first be offered in Japan, before eventually making their way to other markets.
Among the features within the Lexus Teammate suite is Advanced Drive, which uses Lidar and cameras to help the car navigate, change lanes, keep a safe distance, and overtake other vehicles, in a way that’s not too dissimilar to Tesla’s Autopilot system.
For now, Advanced Drive is a Level 2 semi-autonomous driving system that still requires drivers to monitor their surroundings, but once the relevant legislation allows for it, the system can receive over-the-air upgrades to raise it to a Level 3 capable system.
The AI functionality comes in the form of the system being able to ‘read’ drivers’ behaviour, and adapt the level of assistance to suit. For example, a more confident and experienced driver might be able to handle a corner at a higher speed, and Lexus Teammate can take that into account for the Advanced Drive system to adapt accordingly when in use.
Other features within the Lexus Teammate suite include Advanced Park, which uses cameras and sensors to assist the driver with parking automatically, a digital rear view mirror, and Lexus’ own adaptive high beam system which it calls BladeScan.
Under-the-skin tweaks to the LS are relatively minor, and are mostly geared towards offering improved comfort and refinement. A newly developed Adaptive Variable Suspension solenoid reduces damping force, while the vertical spring rate (stiffness) of the run-flat tires and the rigidity of the stabiliser bars have also been adjusted.
The orifice inside the engine mounts have also been changed so as to alter damping characteristics, reducing the vibrations that are transmitted to the vehicle’s cabin. Lexus has also tweaked the Active Noise Control and Engine Sound Enhancement systems to further reduce noise. For instance, the hybrid powertrain in the LS 500h hybrid model has been tuned to utilise the battery more often during acceleration.
For the petrol-powered LS 500, the engine has been tweaked for more lower end torque, and the gearbox has been adjusted accordingly for improved shift timings and reducing the frequency of downshifts.
The styling changes to the facelifted LS are minimal, with the key differences being the updated front end with new headlights and an L-shaped daytime running lights (DRLs). The bumpers are also slightly redesigned, and there is a new squarish intake on the front fender, but otherwise the changes are mostly of the ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ kind.
Lexus has also introduced a new paint colour called Gin-ei Luster, which it says contains aluminium flakes and gives the car a smooth, mirror-like texture.
Inside, the LS gets a new 12.3-inch wide touchscreen display for the infotainment system, which is compatible with SmartDeviceLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but aside from that, there are no major changes to the interior.