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2018 Lexus LS previews driver-focused future

Lexus is shaking off its dowdy image and heading for a performance-focused future, with the new LS sedan to spearhead a charge towards driver engagement.

The Japanese brand is using its just-unveiled LS sedan as a blueprint for pouring more fun into the drive experience, so much so that we could soon see the luxe limo hammering out laps at the Nurburgring - something even the car’s chief engineer concedes he would never have attempted in the outgoing model.

The top-tier version of the brand’s all-new LS is the first to be built with performance, rather than cosseting luxury, as a priority, with Lexus keen to ensure the aggressive exterior was matched by its driving dynamics.

The car, unveiled this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, will arrive in Australia packing a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 behind that complicated grille, feeding its 310kW and 600Nm through a 10-speed automatic transmission before sending all that drive to the rear wheels. But more importantly, Lexus has sunk resources into improving the dynamics of its flagship sedan, which is underpinned by the brand’s GA-L architecture, the same as the incoming LS Coupe.

The car’s chief engineer, Toshio Asahi, told CarsGuide that his core focus was improving the driving experience, which he concedes was lacking in the outgoing model. Mr Asahi said while the previous LS had only ever undergone technical checks at a racetrack, this new model was the first he would be willing to unleash on the infamous Nurburgring.

“This time we put a lot of emphasis and focus on improving the driving dynamics and performance of the vehicle,” he said.

“I would like to take the car out to the track, but this time not to do just a test run, or a check run, but to really analyse the vehicle performance and dynamics at a performance level.

“The emotional part of the driving element is obviously a key theme we wanted to incorporate into this vehicle. (And) with that in mind, we may consider taking the car, to perhaps, different places like Fuji Speedway, which is our own test track, as well as maybe the Nurburgring,” he said.

Is the new Lexus LS for limo drivers or racing drivers? Tell us what you think in the comments below.