That in future cars will be autonomous is no longer in doubt; most automakers now have some form of autonomous features on their models and they are striving to improve these features with every new model they release. Luxury brands lead from the front in vehicles with most autonomous driving technologies. However, it is through futuristic concepts that automakers get to exhibit their advanced autonomous technologies. Toyota through the Lexus brand is the latest automaker to release a model with semi-autonomous technology. The model christened “ Lexus LS Plus Concept ” previews a new generation of the automaker’s flagship LS sedan with partial autonomous driving capabilities. The model is currently on display at the ongoing Tokyo Motor Show. However, it is a bit unconventional for Lexus to preview the next-generation Lexus LS having debuted a new generation of the sedan earlier this year. The norm is to wait until a current generation is at least in the mid of its product cycle but who are we to judge.
Lexus LS Plus Concept Exterior
The 4-door Lexus LS+ Concept looks flashy and stylish; the model’s size is similar to that of the current LS model. The sedan seems to feature ultralights technology for its headlights and taillights. This technology promises better illumination which in turn enhances safety not only for the driver but also for other road users. The model does not feature conventional side mirrors; the units have been replaced with side cameras. The best attraction on the exterior model is its 22-inch wheels that feature colorful rims that look both sporty and flashy. The wheels are so much different from the current model’s 20-inch wheels. Like all Lexus models, the LS+ comes with an attractive spindle grille at the front. The new unit features mechanized shutters that open and close as need be to optimize aerodynamics as well as enhance the model’s fuel economy.
The interior of the sedan previews latest interior design language that Lexus plans to hook up its upcoming premium models. It features full leather upholstery with matching the wood trim on the dash and door panels. The cabin also features infrared rear-passenger sensor. The cabin also features a climate concierge which detects prevailing temperatures of different climate zones and adjusts the ventilation system accordingly. The system can actually set different temperature levels for the steering wheels, front seats, and rear seats. This system ensures every zone has ideal comfort levels enabling each passenger to customize their comfort levels via the touch of a button.
The main attraction of the LS+ Concept is its partially autonomous features which are bundled in technologies the automaker refers to as “Urban Teammate” and “Highway Assistant”. Highway Teammate enables the car to navigate on narrow roads as well as busy streets. The Highway Assistant, on the other hand, enables users to map out their destination after which the car directs the driver to the destination via the shortest possible route. The system also gives out various suggestions such as overtaking and changing lanes.
To ensure the success of these technologies, Toyota is working with the Japanese government to map all of Japan’s highways to support the introduction of the technology.
Engine and performance
The Lexus LS Plus Concept does not feature a revolutionary drive-train as Lexus has largely focused on the autonomous aspects of the model rather than hooking it up with an innovative drive-train. The model is expected to feature a 3.5 L, V-6 under its bonnet. Although Lexus has not released actual output figures, the engine is expected to produce 354 hp. This mill is currently used in the LS500h. Some rumors, however, allege that the model could come in an all-electric drive-train when it hits the market. Whatever the engine preferred, the model is expected to be pretty fast with a 0-60 dash of around 5.5 seconds.
I can’t wait to see this flashy vehicle in its actual production body. Reports from the automaker hint to a 2020 release date. I hope the production version won’t lose most of the flashy aura of the concept as is usually the case with production versions based on initial concept cars.