A Lexus mastermind explains the new LS 460 F SPORT.
10/3/2012—It’s a statement of intent that borders on the aggressive, and it’s a sign of the Lexus times written in big letters. That bold declaration is F SPORT, and it now adorns the 2013 Lexus LS 460.
Who’d have thought it?
After all, the Lexus LS’ trademark qualities since day one—serenity, smoothness, genius tech features designed to anticipate your needs—are what the LS is iconically known for. To infuse the Lexus LS with some F SPORT attitude goes against the LS heritage, right?
Wrong, says Shuichi Ozaki, a Lexus meister who played a decisive role in developing the car.
“When you think of the word ‘sport,’ a macho image comes to mind, but that is not what we wanted,” he says. “Throughout development, we thought about balance. The result is a car with commanding sportiness but also comfort, convenience, and safety levels that befit the flagship profile. Think ‘exhilarating luxury.’”
The exhilaration comes from features that create the look and, more important, driving “feel” of the car. They include paddle-shifters, ride height lowered by almost half an inch, 19-inch wheels, a TORSEN limited slip differential that distributes torque between the rear wheels to help enhance traction, and high-performance Brembo six-piston caliper brakes.
The ride height is a big deal. Ozaki explains: “We decided to give the LS F SPORT a lower center of gravity to match its personality. It’s not as drastic as a road-hugging 20 or 30 millimeters, but the driving effect is noticeable. The outcome, for me, is a sensual car.”
Thus speaks the meister, man of “feel,” but what about the balance of sporting sensuality and flagship luxury?
“To be honest, it led to some heated discussion. Lexus is changing right now and these are emotional times. Some of the developers were extremist, some cautious. Yes, we can realize the vision of a pure sports car by hardening the suspension or configuring extremely sensitive brakes, but we have always needed to remind ourselves that this is the LS. It has been a repeated process of locking horns, asking questions, finding solutions by stepping out of our comfort zones, and moving forward.”
With guiding hands, Ozaki and his fellow meisters have felt their way through it all, giving shape to a dynamic vision of the Lexus flagship that few would have thought possible when the first model was launched in 1989.
TORSEN® is a registered trademark of Zexel Torsen, Inc.
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