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DRIVETIME: MOTORING: BAGS OF LUXURY; Big changes to flagship model.

YOU'LL be hard pressed to spot the difference as Japan's only successful luxury car brand launches the third generation of its flagship model.

But, subtle though they may be, there are significant changes to the styling of the latest Lexus LS430 which will be launched at the Frankfurt motor show next week.

There are new shape headlamps, a lower and wider look at the front-end and a more pronounced, muscular, bonnet profile. There are new styling features along the car's flanks too as well as new five-spoke, 18-inch alloys while, at the back, the boot lid features a new rear trim design and high-technology rear lamp clusters, with fast-responding LED units for tail and stop lamps.

In the engineering department, the double overhead-cam, 32-valve, 4.3- litre V8 engine is combined with an all-new Super ECT electronically-controlled six-speed automatic transmission with sequential shift lock mode. The combination will power the Lexus flagship from standstill to 62mph in 6.3 seconds. The front and rear suspension systems have been tweeked to achieve increased ride comfort, stability and responsiveness. Electronically modulated air suspension remains standard equipment. The cabin features the latest safety technology, with dual front airbags with two-stage variable- force activation, side curtain airbags and driver and front seat passenger knee airbags.

The latest Lexus is the first car in Europe with this feature. The knee airbag is designed to deploy from the lower part of the instrument panel at the same time as the front airbag to reduce injury from contact with steering column and lower dashboard structures. It has also been found to reduce head and chest injuries by reducing pelvis displacement and rotation of the torso in a major impact.

Other new features include an intelligent adaptive front-lighting system, a rear view camera linked to a full-colour parking assist monitor similar to that already seen on the RX300 and a voice-recognition navigation system. This system features the latest hands-free technology, recognising around 300 spoken commands. In addition, the Bluetooth technology allows cable- free use of personal data and mobile phone equipment.

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MUSCULAR: Subtle but significant changes have been made to the styling of the Lexus LS430
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 5, 2003
Words:360
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