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2021 Lexus LS showcases improved suspension, new autonomous driving features

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Lexus says it has taken its LS luxury saloon flagship into 2021 with new technology, updated styling and even smoother driving performance.

According to Lexus, the new car is available for order in a choice of three trim levels, Autocar reports.

The standard LS comes with an optional Premium upgrade package with heated rear seats, an upgraded stereo and four-zone climate control.

The automaker says mid-range F Sport trim brings a performance-inspired bodykit alongside extra equipment including the brand’s new BladeScan adaptive headlights, while top-rung Takumi trim includes a digital rear-view mirror, bespoke 20in alloy wheels and 22-way electrically adjustable front seats.

Chief among the revisions to the LS range is a revamped hybrid drive system that seeks to improve the driving experience in Normal mode, which, Lexus says, is where the average LS spends 90 per cent of its time, and in which the driver uses only moderate accelerator input.

By upping the level of assistance provided by the hybrid system’s lithium ion battery, Lexus has reduced the amount of throttle needed to accelerate, resulting in a “smoother and more linear” acceleration curve.

The brand claims the LS offers more comfortable city driving as a result, as well as benefits on winding routes and hill starts.

Engine performance

A by-product of the battery’s increased output is that the 3.5-litre V6 petrol motor can operate at lower revs, reducing noise and vibration, while sharper acceleration and improved shift timing result in less frequent downshifts.

The facelifted LS also gains a new Adaptive Variable Suspension system with reduced damping forces, as Lexus seeks to improve upon the LS’s trademark ride quality and refinement.

The engine mounts have been changed, thicker seats added to further reduce vibrations in the cabin, and the stiffness of the tyres’ sidewalls has been reduced.

Interior

On the inside, the main changes are improved technology, headlined by the addition of a new advanced driver assistance and safety package called Lexus Teammate. This gives the LS more autonomous driving features, allowing it to change lanes and overtake other cars automatically.

The system also receives automatic over-the-air software updates and a new 12.3in touchscreen infotainment system, repositioned slightly to improve access for the driver.

New technological additions include the BladeScan adaptive high-beam headlight system, as first seen on the updated RX SUV, which uses a fast-rotating mirror to project light from LEDs to provide enhanced illumination compared with conventional systems, and the digital rear-view mirror that improves rearward visibility.

Elsewhere, the 360deg camera gains a new pedestrian detection function and there are new motors that tighten the seat belts when the pre-collision warning system is activated.

Exterior

The LS’s exterior has been lightly updated, with a new front bumper, darkened front grille and new black trim around the rear lights.

The black detailing theme extends to the inside, where controls on the steering wheel and centre console mirror the darker look.

Lexus president Koji Sato says, “The LS, as a flagship, has constantly pursued innovation and has provided new technologies and value for its customers.

“In developing the new LS announced today, we furthered the evolution of the exceptional quietness and comfort that has been a steadfast constant since the model’s first generation.”

Auto Connection, in its review of the vehicle, says, “The 2021 Lexus LS comes with the tech and features we expect from a luxury sedan, but its lineup tops out where German competitors are only getting started.

“We score it at 9 out of 10 with points above average for standard fare and luxurious, if not excessively opulent, options.”

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Tesla driverless car explodes after crashing into tree

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Two men have died after a Tesla vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree on Saturday night north of Houston, authorities said.

After the fire was extinguished, authorities located two occupants in the vehicle, with one in the front passenger seat and the other in the back seat of the Tesla

The accident came amid growing scrutiny over Tesla’s semi-automated driving system following recent accidents.

The US auto safety agency said in March it had opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles.

“There was no-one in the driver’s seat,” Sergeant Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said.

The 2019 Tesla Model S was travelling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road, crashing into a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.

Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in January that he expected huge profits from the company’s full self-driving software, saying he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year”.

Experts say the self-driving technology must overcome safety and regulatory hurdles to achieve commercial success.

-Reuters

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Mercedes-Benz stuns with another seven-seater crossover SUV

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A few days after Mercedes-Benz revealed what it calls the mother of all electric vehicles in the form of the sophisticated EQS luxury sedan, it has added another stunning product to the Mercedes-EQ family of cars, the EQB.

This is a seven-seater, crossover sport utility vehicle that is to the GLB-class what the EQA is to the GLA.

Car and Driver in a report quotes the premium German automaker as saying the EQB is based on the GLB crossover.

Mercedes-Benz EQ is a series of battery electric vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz. The first model was previewed at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 with the Generation EQ concept vehicle.

The EQB will be launched first in China, where it debuts in a luxuriously equipped all-wheel-drive version with AMG Line styling.

Europe is to have it next in three versions: front- and all-wheel-drive models and a range-optimizing mid-level EQB.

The new vehicle will however not be released to the US market until next year.

While the sheet metal and glass are identical, the styling department under Gorden Wagener has cleaned up the exterior for a more contemporary and sophisticated look.

The front is graced by the trademark EQ headlight/fascia assembly, with a horizontal light bar stretching over the entire width.

This element is reflected on the tail end, which boasts a horizontal light strip as well.

There are EQ-specific colours and wheels, and there will be a choice of regular or AMG-Line front and rear bumpers.

The interior is carried over from the GLB as well, but it comes with EQ-exclusive color and trim options, including rose gold (pictured here), one of Wagener’s favorite colors.

Due to the battery packs in the floor, interior space suffers a bit: Daimler cautions that the third row will only work for people up to 5’5″ and the trunk shrinks considerably.

That said, the EQB is still a crossover SUV that offers more space than usual for its exterior dimensions.

The EQB was unveiled in China, and it will be launched there first as a fully loaded model with a standard AMG Line look, all-wheel drive, and two motors that make a combined 288 horsepower.

Europe will get both the EQB350 4Matic with around 268 horsepower and the front-wheel-drive EQB250 with 221 horsepower; there will also be a mid-level version designed as a long-range model. Both China and Europe will see the EQB at dealers within the 2021 calendar year.

The US will have to wait until 2022, and the company is mum about the possible powertrain options.

Car and Driver says, “What we can deduce from our experience with the EQA is that even the least powerful versions of the EQB will come in at around 4500 pounds, which we hope won’t translate into plodding, cumbersome handling characteristics, even if that would feel a bit less out of place in a people hauler like the EQB than in a compact hatch like the EQA.

“There will be no true AMG version, unlike on the EQS and the EQE. However, we’ll suspend judgment until we can drive it.”

 

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Audi to light up Auto Shanghai with new E-Tron

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Audi has released a first teaser of its new E-Tron sedan ahead of the launch of the lustrous car today April 19 at the 2021 Auto Shanghai.

But it only showed the long front end, though the company is back with a second teaser that reveals much more for the car.

The latest teaser, posted to Audi’s Weibo account, the Facebook-like Chinese social media site, shows the car in profile with dramatic shadows obscuring most of the bodywork. But a little tweaking in Photoshop reveals a bit more of the car’s styling.

One of the first things jumping out is the rear overhang, which looks oddly elongated compared to the front.

Audi will show off the car at Auto Shanghai 2021 on Monday, April 19.

However, while its reveal is imminent, the new sedan isn’t expected to go on sale until the 2023 model year, so it will be a bit before you can buy one.

It should be the first model to ride on the brand’s Premium Platform Electric architecture that Audi jointly developed with Porsche.

The teaser confirms much of what is expected – a sedan similar in size and shape to the Audi A5 Sportback.

However, the new E-Tron does look sleeker than the A5 Sportback, with a lower greenhouse and unique proportions. One can even spot the charging door on the rear quarter panel.

Elections will power the new fastback sedan, though the setup remains unclear. A single-motor model will power the rear wheels, while a dual-motor setup in higher performance trim will power all four.

It should also sport 800-volt charging and offer around 300 miles of range, though that could be less in the US with its strict testing regiment. Inside, people should expect to see a similar design to what’s in the E-Tron GT, though it will be a bit less luxurious as this new E-Tron will likely slot below the GT.

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