Lexus will again reset the automobile market's expectations of luxury models this Autumn when it introduces the LS430, the third generation of its flagship sedan to Europe. Lexus, the leading luxury brand in the U.S. market, unveiled the new model at the Detroit Motor Show. Lexus designed the all-new LS430 to be as much of a leap over current competitive luxury models as the first LS400 was in 1989.
While the first generation and current LS400 models established new benchmarks for performance, quality, quiet ride and content in the luxury category, the new LS430 was designed to exceed even these lofty standards. Compared to the current LS400, the new LS430 will provide:
- a more spacious interior
- a new 4,3 liter engine that offers increased performance
- and ultra low emissions with similar fuel consumption
- a higher degree of passive and active safety
- more advanced luxury features, yet with controls that are simple to use
- redesigned suspension for greater stability, response, and handling, yet an even smoother quieter ride
- a richer, more stylish interior
- a greater range of options for more individuality
Super-Sleek Body Virtually Eliminates Wind Noise
While retaining the "presence" of the original and second-generation LS400s, the new LS430 exudes a more muscular presence. The sleek exterior, with the available Air Suspension, meets the wind with a 0.25 coefficient of drag (Cd), the lowest of any current passenger car. This unprecedented aerodynamic efficiency virtually eliminates wind noise, making the LS430 even quieter inside than its benchmark predecessors. In addition, the ultra-low Cd helps keep fuel consumption about the same - even with the increased engine displacement and performance. Lexus was able to achieve the impressive wind tunnel
performance despite raising overall height.
To increase interior room in the LS430, Lexus lengthened the wheelbase by 75 mm but kept overall length the same at 4995 mm.
In building the new LS430, Lexus used a supercomputer to digitize the precise surface design of the body. The unit of measure used was 1/1000 of a millimeter, ten times more precise than the typical 1/100 of a millimeter units used by other car companies. The result is more-precisely stamped sheet metal for better fit and assembly quality. While Lexus has won the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study every year it has been eligible, the company made what it considers 57 major improvements for even longer-lasting durability.
Before designing the LS430, Lexus designers and engineers studied luxury and craftsman-ship outside the automotive realm. They visited five-star hotel rooms, including presidential/royal suites for national guests, and surveyed first class aircraft cabins and luxury jet interiors. They also observed high-end jewelry/watch makers and guitar makers at work.
The US version of the LS430 adds new, higher grades of leather and wood. The climate control system features temperature and sun-sensing articulating air registers. If, for example, sunlight is concentrated on one side of the car, the registers will automatically deliver more cooling air to that side. Additional adjustments for the front seats include dual lumbar controls and for the driver adjustable cushion length for greater thigh support.
The standard-combination wood/leather steering wheel features controls for the audio system, which will include as standard an in-dash, single-feed six-disc CD changer. The new CD changer location allows for a larger dual glove box, and expanded interior storage includes compartments in the center console and under the front seats.
The options available on the new LS430 will place it into a different category entirely.
Additional available features include*:
- Climate control front seats (which use separate heating and cooling elements, not just fans)
- Parking clearance sonar
- Power moonroof
- Power adjustable rear seatbacks with memory
- Power rear sunshade and manual rear door sunshades
- Rear air conditioner with air purifier
- Rear seat heat and massage
- Power rear door and trunk closers
- Dual-level heated seats
- DVD-ROM navigation system (faster than CD-Rom based system)
High Performance With Ultra-Low Emissions
The original Lexus LS400 prescribed a V8 engine as the "price of entry" in the premium luxury segment more than 10 years ago, when European luxury models typically offered less powerful six-cylinder engines. The new 290-horsepower 4.3-litre V8 in the LS430 is mated to a computer-controlled five-speed automatic transmission, and will power the Lexus flagship sedan from 0-100 km/h in just over 6 seconds with around 430 Nm. of peak torque (US version), thanks in large part to Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i). VVT-i eliminates the traditional compromise between low-end torque and high-rpm horsepower by optimizing valve overlap throughout the engine's speed range (not just at one or two set speeds). Lexus tuned the LS430 engine to produce more torque across a broad engine speed range, making the car feel more responsive under all driving conditions.
The LS430 introduces the industry's first "torque-activated" powertrain control, which governs the throttle based not just on pedal position, but on vehicle speed and engine rpm as well. When climbing a hill, for example, the controller will increase the throttle opening to provide more power without the driver having to "floor it". The car will behave more smoothly because unwanted up-shifts and down-shifts are avoided, and the driver does not have to keep depressing and releasing the accelerator to maintain a set pace over varying road conditions. Even with the increased performance, the Lexus LS430 V8 meets Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) certification in the USA - an unusual achievement in this segment.
Taking Safety To The Next Level
The LS430 features a rigid passenger cell protected by front and rear crumple zone structures. The Supplemental Restraint System in the new LS430 adds next-generation variable-force front airbags and side curtain front and rear airbags. Sensors determine the force with which to deploy the front airbags helping to maximize the occupant restraint. In addition the front seats and rear
outboard seats are equipped with seatbelt tensioners with force limiters.
Lexus believes in giving the driver the technology to help avoid danger on the road. The LS430 includes Brake Assist, which Lexus introduced on the LS400 for 2000. Brake Assist interprets a quick, hard push of the brake pedal as emergency braking and, if the driver has not stepped hard enough on the brake pedal to activate the anti-lock brake system, Brake Assist supplements the applied braking pressure.
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), introduced on the 1998 LS400 and now available on most Lexus models, helps maintain traction control under demanding conditions by detecting and helping to correct for understeer and oversteer. The VSC system integrates traction control to limit rear wheel spin on slippery surfaces. Both VSC and Brake Assist employ the sensors and actuators of the standard four-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS).
Note: All technical data and photos presented here are US specification.