With the new Mercedes-Benz S class garnering worldwide plaudits, Lexus Division has countered the German luxury offensive with a new flagship of its own.
The new LS 430, unveiled at the North American International Auto Show on Tuesday, Jan. 11, has sportier sheet metal, a more powerful engine and more luxury features than the LS 400 it replaces.
Jim Press, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. executive vice president, admitted that the last-generation LS 400 had been designed in an era of endaka, or cost-cutting. But with the new LS 430, 'that era has ended. This car's role is to elevate Lexus to a truly world-class level,' Press said at the auto show.
Such amenities as seat coolers, rain-activated windshield wipers, parking clearance sonar and rear passenger automatic climate control and massage are available. Also optional is the first-ever installation of a car audio system by Mark Levinson, whose home systems cost as much as $100,000.
Yet Press added that the LS 430 'was designed for the driving experience, not the luxury experience.'
Its 4.3-liter V-8 propels the flagship to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, aided by an updated five-speed automatic transmission, variable valve timing and a new 'torque-activated powertrain control' that governs the throttle based on pedal position, engine speed and engine rpm.
Adaptive variable suspension, brake assist and vehicle skid control bring more road feel and control to the driver. The car is 2 inches wider and has three inches more wheelbase, but the overall length and width remain the same.
Chief designer Makoto Ooshima says he was inspired by the Japanese bullet train, especially since the car was tested in the same wind tunnel. It has the lowest coefficient of drag, at 0.25, of any sedan.
The LS 430 goes on sale in October. Lexus hopes to sell 25,000 units a year.