Lexus looks to elixir of youth
2013 Lexus LS 460 Sports Luxury (pre-production model shown). Picture: David Dewhurst

When Lexus launched the fourth generation of its flagship LS, it set new standards in the large luxury limousine market - so much so that it was named the 2007 World Car of the Year.

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A lot has happened since then.

The most significant event was the faltering of the world economy that has seen demand for these big luxury saloons diminish.

In Australia, nearly 1500 $100,000-plus large luxury vehicles were sold in 2007; last year that figure had dropped to 788.

Last week, Lexus revealed the second update of its fourth- generation model (it has delayed the release of a completely new version) ahead of its February launch. But the update involved more than a few minor tweaks to freshen up the appearance of its hybrid-powered flagship.

The luxury saloon has not only been given a sportier, more aggressive look - due mainly to the new spindle grille - but, according to Lexus, there have also been 3000 mechanical and component changes - including four world and 13 Lexus firsts - to the 2013 model.

The entry price has also been slashed by more than $25,000 and new F Sport models have been added to the range as Lexus tries to attract new, and younger, buyers to the brand.

To achieve the price reduction, the luxury car maker has introduced a short-wheelbase version of its all-wheel-drive hybrid LS and consigned long- wheelbase versions to special order status.

Two of the three models in the revised line-up will be F Sport variants. The range comprises the $189,900 LS 460 F Sport, the $192,400 LS 460 Sport Luxury and the $217,900 LS 600h F Sport.

The LS 460 and LS 460 Sport V8s have been dropped from the range.

The 460s continue to be powered by a 4.6-litre V8 engine driving the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 600 mates a 5.0-litre V8 engine with an electric motor and drives all four wheels via an eight- step continuously variable transmission.

Its carry-over output of 327kW makes it the most powerful F Sport model yet. The new model has also received chassis upgrades, a new five-mode (Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus) driving style selection and active cruise control.

It also comes with features such as hollow alloy wheels which are designed to reduce road noise, while the LS 600h F Sport will be the first Lexus sold in Australia with active stabiliser-bar technology that is designed to provide better body control and steering response and precision.

The entry price has also been slashed by more than $25,000 and new F Sport models have been added to the range.

The West Australian

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