The wait is nearly over: in the second quarter of the year, the latest evolution of the LEXUS LS luxury sedan will arrive in South Africa.
Impeccable ride comfort has always been a defining quality of Lexus’s flagship sedan, the LS. The model helped found the brand 30 years ago, and the benchmark set by the original LS has inspired the teams developing each successive LS generation to always seek to do better, and to find improvements in any detail that might deliver even higher levels of comfort.
It’s that commitment that has brought about significant advances in the ride quality of the 2021 LS, achieved not through a single breakthrough innovation, but through a comprehensive review of the parts and controls relating to driving performance, ride comfort and quietness. The changes go beyond the fundamentals of fine-tuning the suspension to include adjustments to the tyres and even the materials and methods used to structure and upholster the seats.
New level of ride comfort…
The result is unprecedented ride comfort – but importantly, without sacrificing the car’s rewarding dynamic character.
The fifth-generation LS, introduced in 2018, marked a leap forward in vehicle design, because it was the first to make use of Lexus’s GA-L (Global Architecture-Luxury) platform. The immediate benefits of this underpinning included excellent chassis balance, a low centre of gravity and much-increased body rigidity. New multi-link suspension geometry was adopted, and the performance of the Adaptive Variable Suspension was revolutionised, moving from a simple nine-stage system to near-seamless, continuous damping control through 650 levels.
These elements contribute to the Lexus Driving Signature, a combination of refinement, comfort and ride quality that is unique to Lexus.
“We have been implementing various improvements year-on-year to ensure the continual evolution of the LS as a Lexus flagship,” LS chief engineer Toshio Asahi explains. “In terms of the driving performance of the new LS, I decided that we should focus on the ‘refined driving performance’ that forms the model’s DNA, and is the starting point for our brand. Therefore, we went back to basics and refined the fundamental performance from the ground up.”
Of course, damping performance is key to comfort, ensuring imperfections in the road surface are absorbed. The sophisticated AVS system has been updated with a new linear solenoid and an enlarged flow path in the control valve. This performance adjustment not only helps to improve the ride quality, it also plays a part in better steering response and stability.
Also, to reduce shock and vibration, the new Lexus LS has been fitted with liquid-filled engine mounts and rear suspension bushes. And to provide even better control of the vehicle’s body roll when cornering, the thickness of both the front and rear anti-roll bars has been increased.
Tyres form the single contact point between a car and the road, and thus can make an important contribution to ride comfort. The LS will come standard with run-flat tyres, which by their very nature are more rigid than conventional tyres. Nonetheless, Lexus has been able to reduce their vertical spring rate to control the up/down movement of the sidewall. Even the tyres’ material compound and inner structure have been adjusted to factor out high-frequency vibrations.
…and interior comforts too
The car’s seats also play a critical role in how the occupant experiences the ride. Some of the LS models will feature the most sophisticated seats yet seen in a Lexus, with multi-directional adjustability, integrated heating and ventilation, and precisely controlled massage functions.
To improve comfort, the priority for the new model range was the tactile sensation as you sit down, with greater cushioning to better disperse body pressure. The development team undertook repeated trials to select an ideal, low-resilience urethane material for the seat pads that will fit the body snugly and comfortably, with uniform performance at all temperatures.
The LS will launch with a few subtle aesthetic changes, both inside and out. Already launched and sold in some markets, the new model will debut locally during the second quarter of this year.