Third Lexus hybrid bound for the UK

13 April 2006

Lexus unveiled its third petrol-electric hybrid car at this week's New York Auto Show – and it's coming to the UK next year.

It is fitted to the next-generation LS luxury saloon and once more marries petrol and electric power to ensure that performance is achieved without heavy carbon dioxide emissions.

A similar system is already used in the RX 4x4 model, and the GS executive saloon is set to go down the same path next month.

In the LS600h, Lexus is applying hybrid drive with a V8 engine for the first time. A new 5.0-litre V8 works in conjunction with two electric motors, giving a maximum of more than 430bhp.

The electric motors drive the car at low speeds in town, the petrol engine does the work at faster cruising pace and the two power sources combine when accelerating hard. Under braking and when cruising, the batteries that power the electric motors are recharged.

Lexus claims that the performance will match that of rival V12 engines while the fuel economy will be more on a par with a V6. Performance and economy figures are not yet available.

To cope with the pulling strength generated by the hybrid drive system, the LS600 becomes Lexus's first saloon with permanent four-wheel drive. The gearbox is a continuously variable automatic that can also be used as an eight-speed sequential manual.

Electronic safety features
The new LS will be the first car with Lexus's new advanced collision protection system and parallel park-assist function.

Advanced collision protection has a unique pedestrian-friendly feature – two small cameras and a radar mounted in the front that detect anything in their path. A third camera monitors the driver's gaze.

If this third camera detects that the driver is not focused on obstacles in the car's path, it first warns the driver, then brakes the car and quickens the steering response to make it easier to avoid a collision.

The park-assist function effectively lines up the car perfectly at the kerbside at the touch of a button. All the driver has to do is brake.

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