The other day while I was out on a grey, wet, Spring day I came across the next-generation Lexus LS flagship sedan out testing in central Tokyo. It’s not a scoop or a spy shot by any means, the fifth-generation LS debuted at the Detroit Motor Show at the start of the year and more recently at the Geneva Motor Show.

However, this was the first time I’ve seen it on the road. At first I thought it was just a blacked out current-gen LS until I noticed the rear end and of course the temporary plates. I couldn’t get a long look at it as it was driving in traffic but after running for a bit (okay, a lot) I manage to catch up to it at a red light and got these photos.

It looked longer, wider, and lower than the current LS and for good reason – because it is. It looks sleeker and the design flows better than the car it replaces, with the fourth-gen LS being on sale since 2006.

This new car is a handsome looking thing, Lexus are getting their designs quite right since the introduction of their beautiful LC coupe. The LS was never meant to get hearts racing, it’s a luxury sedan after all, but it does a good job of standing out from its rivals. The LS puts cabin and luggage space as its priorities but it’s still got some style. You won’t be mistaking this for a Bavarian taxi anytime soon.

Although it’s called the LS500 there isn’t a 5.0-litre V8 under the bonnet. There’s now a smaller, more efficient, and more powerful twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6. Power is rated at 415hp/309kW and 600NM of torque. Power will be sent to the rear-wheels via a 10-speed auto. Of course a hybrid will also be available.

Underpinning the new LS is Lexus’ new GA-L platform as seen in the LC. The result is more space inside than the previous car, part of the Omotenashi idea of hospitality. It’s also 90kgs lighter than before, helpful for driving dynamics and economy.

The interior of the LS looks amazing. Unfortunately I couldn’t get photos so these press pics will have to do. If the LC is anything to go by, the LS’s interior is going to be very well put together, will have top-class materials, and it’ll just be a lovely place to doze off. I’m sure there’ll be more space for rear passengers too.

Lexus go on a lot about the LS having a “unique identity” and how it combines technology and comfort with Japanese traditions. I’m sure it does all that with Takumi style wood panels, origami-inspired door trims, and Shimamoku wood patterns, but the LS has some big competition to go up against. With the LS being the only large Japanese luxury sedan on the market, using it’s Japanesness to mark its own niche is pretty clever.

The new LS is set to go on sale later in the year and will be available in more than 90 countries, including New Zealand. Are you looking forward to this?

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