When it was launched in 1989, the Lexus LS 400 revolutionised the very idea of a flagship luxury saloon by setting benchmarks for comfort, refinement, build quality, and dependability. It jolted stalwarts like Mercedes and BMW from complacency and triggered a flagship battle. However, over the years, Lexus seemed to have lost the edge, leaving huge gaps between model updates, while the S-Class and the 7 Series kept improving exponentially. The Japanese luxury brand hopes to turn the situation around again with the all-new fifth-generation LS saloon, which was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit today. Lexus says the LS has been designed to be the brand’s “global citizen,” and that it will be available in about 90 countries. But it’s distinctly Japanese and distinctly Lexus, with its origami-inspired styling.  “Not only will the LS symbolise the Lexus brand, it will become the definitive new-generation luxury car embodying Japanese tradition and culture,” says Toshio Asahi, chief engineer for the new LS. “As such, this global pinnacle must go far beyond what the world expects from a luxury car.”

Built on an extended version of the GA-L platform, which debuted in the LC 500 coupé, the new LS sits lower and has a wider track, giving it a lower centre of gravity. This is the stiffest platform Lexus has ever used, which the company says will help improve handling, ride smoothness and cabin quietness. It also boasts chassis control technology known as Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system which apparently helps control longitudinal, lateral and vertical motion as well as yaw, roll and pitch. Adding to these are active stabiliser bars and the Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) System with independent front and rear steering.

There’s an even more radical change under the bonnet, with a 3.5-litre biturbo V6 replacing the current model’s V8.  But despite the downsizing, it still makes 415bhp and 600Nm of torque, and sent to the rear wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission, which Lexus points out is the first-ever in a premium passenger car.

But the model will only go on sale towards the end of this year,  so we’ll hopefully get to know details about pricing in the next few months.