Lexus Reinvents the Premium Luxury Car ... Again
12 January 2000Lexus Reinvents the Premium Luxury Car ... Again
2001 LS 430 to Arrive in Fall DETROIT, Jan. 11 -- At the North American International Auto Show, Lexus announced that it will again raise the automobile market's expectations of luxury models this fall when it introduces the third generation of its flagship sedan, the 2001 LS 430. Designed to be as much of a leap over current competitive luxury models as the first LS 400 was more than a decade ago, the all-new LS 430 provides ample evidence of the brand's unyielding pursuit of automotive perfection. In a field of much-improved competitors, Lexus has again presented a world-class array of performance, safety, luxury and quality while delivering unmatched value in the premium luxury segment. The first generation and current LS 400 models established new benchmarks for performance, quality, quiet ride and content in the luxury category, yet the new LS 430 exceeds even these lofty standards. Compared to the current LS 400, the new LS 430 features: -- a 4.3 liter engine that offers increased performance and Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) certification -- a more spacious interior -- a high degree of passive and active safety -- more advanced luxury features, yet with controls that are simple to use -- new suspension for greater stability, response, and handling -- an even smoother, quieter ride -- a richer, more stylish interior -- a greater range of options for more individuality "With the LS 400, Lexus created the benchmark by which others are judged," said Lexus Group Vice President and General Manager Bryan Bergsteinsson. "Now, as the competition has caught up in many ways, we need to set new, higher standards." Super-Sleek Body Virtually Eliminates Wind Noise While retaining the "flavor" of the original and second-generation LS 400s, the new LS 430 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 sedan. To achieve this level of aerodynamics, Lexus engineers tested the LS 430 in the same wind tunnel used in the development of Japan's legendary bullet trains. Fine tuning of airflow around bumpers, fenders, floorpan, mirrors and even the angle of the front grille bars contributed to the LS 430's unprecedented aerodynamic efficiency, which virtually eliminates wind noise, making the LS 430 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 by 2.4 inches. To increase interior room in the LS 430, Lexus lengthened the wheelbase by three inches (to 115.2 inches) but kept overall length the same at 196.7 inches. Compared to the externally larger Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the LS 430 offers more front leg- and headroom, slightly more cabin volume (105.3 cu. ft. vs. 105.0 cu. ft.), and a larger trunk (16.1 cu. ft. vs. 15.4 cu. ft.). In building the new LS 430, 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 unit 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 five-year Vehicle Dependability Study every year it has been eligible, the company made what it considers 57 major improvements for even longer-lasting durability. In Search of True Luxury Before designing the LS 430, Lexus designers and engineers studied luxury and craftsmanship 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 LS 430 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 driver's seat include dual lumbar controls and 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 LS 430 place it into a different category entirely. There are more than 15 major systems and features available, including advanced Adaptive Variable Suspension with Air Suspension and a DVD-ROM-based navigation system. The GPS navigation system offers faster performance and far greater map storage capacity than CD-ROM-based systems. The system includes a large 7-inch screen and integrates with the optional voice-activated digital/analog phone. Also optional is the first audio application by Mark Levinson, whose components are used in custom home audio systems costing $100,000 and more. 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 -- Voice-activated portable phone -- Power door and trunk closers -- Dual-level heated seats Lexus incorporated the new technology to make driving the LS 430 more comfortable, convenient and pleasurable. Even with the navigation system and high-end audio, controls are easy for the driver or passengers to identify and operate. High Performance With Ultra-Low Emissions The original Lexus LS 400 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-liter V8 in the LS 430, mated to a computer-controlled five-speed automatic transmission, will rocket the Lexus flagship sedan from 0-60 mph in just 6.2 seconds. Its 320 lb.-ft. of peak torque and enhanced torque curve outclass some larger-displacement engines, 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 LS 430 engine to produce more torque across a broad engine speed range, making the car feel more responsive under all driving conditions. The LS 430 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 gas pedal to maintain a set pace over varying road conditions. Even with the increased performance, the Lexus LS 430 V8 meets Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) certification -- unusual in this segment. Taking Safety To The Next Level The LS 430 features a strong passenger cell protected by front and rear crumple zone structures. The Supplemental Restraint System in the 2001 LS 430 adds advanced 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 occupant restraint performance. The front seats and rear outboard seats feature seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters. Lexus believes in giving the driver the technology to help avoid danger on the road. The LS 430 includes Brake Assist, which Lexus introduced on the LS 400 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 Skid Control (VSC), introduced on the 1998 LS 400 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 help 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). B-roll footage is available by contacting Lexus Public Relations.