With the brand facing increasingly aggressive competition from its upscale European competitors. Lexus has a lot riding on the upcoming launch of the newly redesigned LS. Parent Toyota’s CEO Akio Toyoda has promised to put more “passion” into future models and a new teaser of the flagship sedan suggests that it is, indeed, smoking hot.
The 2013 Lexus LS will be formally unveiled in San Francisco on July 30th during what the maker describes as an “invitation only” event, with automotive scribes to get a closer look during a first-drive event in early August.
The first of what are likely to be several more teasers suggests that the new model will not start from the proverbial clean sheet of paper, though the silhouette appears to feature a bit more sporty styling than the decidedly stodgy current model.
All but certain is the adoption of the new spindle-grille face that first appeared in production on the latest incarnation of the Lexus GS, normally the sportiest sedan in the Lexus line-up. Lexus had signaled the look of the new LS face with an earlier image.
The maker has confirmed that there will be a broader mix of variants than with the current LS line. That means the addition of a new LS 460 F Sport, along with the base LS 460, a long wheelbase LS 460L and the LS 600 Hybrid, the brand’s traditional technology showcase.
The F Sport is not expected to see much change from the stock LS 460, at least under the hood, where the powerplant is expected to remain a 4.6-liter V-8. The focus will be on improving aerodynamics and giving the model a more aggressive appearance.
As for the hybrid model, Lexus took some hits, last time around, for releasing a gas-electric model that promised a mix of performance and improved fuel economy but failed to deliver much of either. It is expected to improve mileage this time but also use the updated Lexus Synergy Drive system to outperform the stock V-8-based LS 460.
While Lexus sales are up sharply from last year — when the maker faced severe inventory constraints because of Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami — it lags well behind German marques Mercedes-Benz and BMW after years of leading the American luxury market.
So, the introduction of the new LS could be critical to Lexus. Though not the brand’s best-seller — a role reserved for the RX crossover — the big sedan sets the tone for the Lexus marque and will need to draw in a new generation of buyers to showrooms who might then opt for more affordable offerings.
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