Lexus just presented the new LS 500 at the Detroit Auto Show as a 2018 model that’s set to go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2017. It’s only been a few months, but Lexus has moved forward already by announcing the Lexus LS 500h and now, at the New York Auto Show, the Lexus LS 500 F Sport. Lexus will lead you to believe that the new F Sport offers an enhanced driving experience over the standard LS 500, but once you dig through all of that PR talk, you’ll find that the big motivating factor – that 3.5-liter V-6 – offers the same 415 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. There are some chassis upgrades, however, that includes an update to Lexus’ VDIM system, a system that integrates ABS, traction control, stability control, EPS and a few other functions all into one box. Now, the system is able to control all vehicle subsystems including braking, steering, powertrain functions, and the suspension system, all of which is based on vehicle motion, yaw, roll, and pitch.
So, when you think of it that way, perhaps the F Sport does offer an enhanced driving experience, but for now, it’s just words. We’ll have to reserve judgment until we actually get behind the wheel. But, it’s not all about what happens under the metal as there are some interior and exterior changes to speak of as well. Keep reading to learn more about what the F Sport will offer when it hits dealers later this year.
A Funky Grille, Black Accents, and Some Interior Love
The biggest exterior change that comes along with the F Sport model is the new grille up front. Instead of having the chrome crosshatch look like we saw on the LS 500, the F Sport gets a different look that includes 10 columns of zig zag lines that run vertically from top to bottom. Down in the corners of the grille, Lexus added a pair of functional vents that are said to help increase cooling of the engine bay. The inner trim of the grille is finished in gloss black while the outlying trim is finished in a dark chrome. The fake vents in the corner of the bumper get the same weird mesh design to go with a gloss black surrounding insert.
The F Sport looks pretty good, but it still would have been nice to see a small bump in power over the standard LS 500.
The side profile gets a dark chrome trim insert on the side skirts, while the wheels have a darker finish as well. Around back, you’ll find that the black chrome insert from the side skirts carries over to the sides of the rear fascia. The chrome trim between the tail lights gets the same treatment. The insert at the bottom of the rear fascia that surrounds the exhaust outlets is also finished in gloss black. With the body finished in white, all of the black accents actually look pretty nice.
Inside, you’ll find an F Sport-exclusive front seat that is said to offer “enhanced support” and also features a perforated grille pattern on the seating surfaces. The interior trim inserts are now scored aluminum, a feature that adds just a little extra character to the cabin. The seats are upholstered in Ultrasuede, as is the headliner, and the pedals are finished in aluminum – yet another nice touch. As an option, you can choose a new Circuit Red interior, but it will certainly come at a cost. Finally, a new F Sport-exclusive steering wheel is in play while the instrument cluster gets a movable meter around the tach and speedo, a feature that is borrowed from the Lexus LFA.
Inside, you’ll find an F Sport-exclusive front seat that is said to offer “enhanced support” and also features a perforated grille pattern on the seating surfaces.
All told, the F Sport looks pretty good, but it still would have been nice to see a small bump in power over the standard LS 500. But, what do you think? Is the F Sport right for you? How do you feel about the new grille design? Let us know in the comments section below.
Having debuted its reinvented flagship sedan earlier this year—the all-new 2018 LS 500—Lexus is putting an exclamation point on this signature model with the new F SPORT model. The LS 500 F SPORT, unveiled today and on display this week at the New York International Auto Show, moves the driving emotion needle even farther with handling enhancements and a performance-infused design outside and in.
The original luxury disruptor when it debuted to launch the brand, the Lexus LS has for nearly three decades set benchmarks for powertrain smoothness, ride quietness, craftsmanship, attention to detail, and long-term quality. The 2018 LS 500 will offer the most dynamic driving experience in the model’s history; now it has the possibility of being enhanced further with the new F SPORT model.
Within the Lexus lineup, the F models, including GS F and RC F, are the track-tuned maximum performance machines. The F SPORT versions, meanwhile, imbue the standard models with a more engaging driving spirit through carefully applied chassis tuning and enhancements, while still emphasizing exceptional comfort. On the new LS, the F SPORT model will be available with gas and hybrid powertrains, and those choosing the RWD V6TT model will have the option of adding the F SPORT Handling Package to bring a level of liveliness never before seen on the flagship sedan.
F SPORT Look
Lexus designers didn’t hold back when giving the LS 500 its coupe-like silhouette and dramatic rendition of the Lexus signature spindle grille that shows even greater intricacy in the design. Developing the F SPORT grille took computer-aided design (CAD) operators some five months to achieve the desired texture and interaction with light. Even then, they adjusted 7,100 individual surfaces to achieve the desired look and texture (compared to 5,000 for the standard model’s grille). And when combined with the sporty enlarged side grille, it is functional as well, helping to maintain the vehicle’s cooling performance.
The special F SPORT front grille, rocker panel, and trunk moldings accentuate the sedan’s rakish profile, while F SPORT badging on fenders and exclusive 20-inch alloy wheels complete the exterior transformation. For those looking to really stand out, Ultra White is offered as an F SPORT-exclusive exterior color.
F SPORT Inside
As it did with the exterior, Lexus shifted the LS 500 cabin into F SPORT spec by applying trim and features exclusive to this version. A common thread through all LS models remains: Omotenashi, the concept of Japanese hospitality. Applied to the LS 500, it means taking care of the driver and passengers, anticipating their needs, attending to their comfort and helping to protect them from hazards. The F SPORT adds a performance attitude to the mix.
The F SPORT persona shines throughout the cabin, starting with the F SPORT-exclusive front seat, which provides enhanced support for dynamic driving. A perforated-grille pattern on seating surfaces and unique scored aluminum trim elements add additional sporty flair.
The driver faces a special F SPORT steering wheel as well as a speedometer and tachometer in a movable meter with a ring that slides to display information—a design adapted from the limited-production Lexus LFA supercar and a further expression of the car’s dynamic intentions. Attention to detail shows in the aluminum accelerator, brake and footrest pedals, as well as the F SPORT perforated shift handle and footrest. Ultrasuede in the seats and headliner is the crowning touch. For those desiring the ultimate sporty look, a new Circuit Red interior is available exclusively on F SPORT models.
LS 500 Chassis Details
2018 LS F SPORT models feature the latest generation of the brand’s advanced chassis control technology, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), which has been refined since its debut more than a decade ago.
In 2004, Lexus introduced the first integrated control system that combined the previously independent ABS, traction control, vehicle stability control, and EPS, as well as other functions, into a single system. In 2012, the brand adopted the four-wheel active steering integrated control system—known as Lexus Dynamic Handling, or LDH—from the GS for enhanced safety and driving performance that responds to the driver’s intention.
The new VDIM system implements cooperative control of all vehicle subsystems – braking, steering, powertrain, and suspension – to control basic longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Optimal control of these motions helps to enable exceptional ride comfort, enhanced traction and safety and handling agility, and allows for enriched flat vehicle posture during cornering as well as a more comfortable and stable ride overall.
The LS 500 is based on an extended version of the brand’s premium global architecture for luxury vehicles (GA–L) platform from the new Lexus LC 500 coupe. The stiffest platform that Lexus has ever developed, GA-L sets the stage for enhanced handling, ride smoothness and cabin quietness. The LS F SPORT capitalizes on the platform’s responsiveness and agility.
Equipping the LS 500 F SPORT with standard 20-inch wheels and 245/45RF20+ 275/40RF20 tires, (summer tires for RWD) along with larger front and rear brakes (6-piston calipers on front and 4 pistons on rear), unlocks more of the platform’s intrinsic performance capability. Opting for the available F SPORT Handling Package (RWD gas model) equips the LS 500 F SPORT with Lexus Dynamic Handling (Variable Gear Ratio Steering and Active Rear Steering), Active Stabilizer, and sport-tuned air suspension with rapid height function. The result is a full-size premium luxury sedan that responds more like a sports coupe through curves, helping to underline what F SPORT stands for.
415-Horsepower Heart with a 10-Speed Partner
Lexus designed an all-new 3.5-liter V6 engine specifically for the new 2018 LS 500, using twin turbochargers developed through the company’s F1 technology. This new twin-turbo V6 offers V8-level performance – 415 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque – paired with the first-ever 10-speed automatic transmission in luxury sedan.
The engine yields a broad torque curve and, perfectly in tune with the F SPORT spirit, the new engine and transmission deliver instant acceleration and a constant buildup of torque toward the vehicle’s redline. The LS 500 is undeniably quick, with a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds (gas RWD). An electric wastegate is among the features that contribute to the engine’s rapid responses. The driver can tailor powertrain response and feel by choosing from Normal, Sport S or Sport S+ modes, and just enough of the exhaust note is heard to enhance the sporty feel.
F SPORT Performance, Hybrid Efficiency
The LS 500h F SPORT infuses high efficiency into the sporting formula. The new Multi Stage Hybrid System combines a naturally aspirated Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 gasoline engine with two electric motor/generators and uses a compact, lightweight lithium-ion battery. The V6 engine uses D-4S direct fuel injection, and lightweight valvetrain components, with Dual VVT-i ensuring ample torque across the engine speed range. Combined system output is 354 hp.
The new system adapts the planetary-type continuously variable transmission from Lexus Hybrid Drive and also adds a unique four-speed automatic transmission. Working in concert, the two gearsets alter output in four stages to utilize the V6 engine across the entire speed range.
In manual mode, the two gearsets act together to provide the effect of 10 ratios, giving the LS 500h F SPORT an enhanced dynamic feel on the road and allowing the driver to shift through the ratios with paddle shifters. The Multi Stage Hybrid System allows for more electric assist at lower vehicle speeds. What’s more, this system allows the RWD LS 500h to propel from 0-60 in 5.2 seconds – which is on par with the previous-generation V8-powered LS 460 and 3 /10th of a second faster than the AWD LS 600h.