Lexus LS430 – Redefining Automotive Perfection

26 September 2000

Paris International Motor Show Press Kit


  • All-new LS430 improves on every area of legendary Lexus perfection to create a new quality benchmark
  • New 4.3 litre, 32-valve, V8 engine with Variable Valve Timing – intelligent (VVT-i) offers increased performance and ultra low emissions (Step IV) with improved fuel consumption
  • Lowest Cd-value (Cd 0.25 with air suspension option – Cd 0.26 with coil suspension) in the segment
  • Quieter, more spacious and more stylish interior
  • Redesigned suspension for greater stability, response and handling, yet an even smoother quieter ride
  • Incorporates some of the most sophisticated automotive technology available, including many world’s firsts.
  • Launched in the UK on November 6th 2000
  • Guide prices under £50,000 for LS430, under £54,000 for LS430 SE
  • Thermo electric air-conditioned front seats
  • Electronic soft closing doors
  • 7.5 cm longer wheelbase provides even more interior space
  • DVD Lexus Navigator system fitted as standard equipment
  • Smart Key System
  • Curtain shield and side airbags fitted as standard equipment
  • Insurance group 17E/18E
  • Maximum speed 155mph, 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds
  • CO2 emissions 289g/km
  • Improved fuel consumption (Combined 23.5mpg, Urban 16.1mpg, Extra urban 31.7mpg )

Lexus have again redefined the motor industry’s expectation of luxury cars, with the introduction to Europe of the all-new Lexus LS430. A decade ago, the first generation Lexus LS400 established new benchmarks for performance, quality, quiet ride and luxury content.

Today again, Lexus have designed the new LS430, the third generation of its flagship model, to be as far ahead of current competitive luxury models as the original LS 400.

“The original Lexus LS 400 shook up the motoring world. It established totally new standards in refinement, build quality, durability, quietness and longevity. Many contemporaries benchmarked themselves on that model” said Ian Mathews, Product Manager, Lexus Europe. “With the Lexus LS430 we aimed to improve on every one of those strong points.”

That is why the new LS430 offers an even more refined driving experience, thanks to a smoother engine and a suspension designed to improve both handling and comfort. Powertrain innovations help ensure that the power delivery is as smooth as possible. Enormous effort was put into achieving the lowest Cd value in the luxury segment, so that the car could be quieter and very fuel-efficient at the same time.

The interior space has been increased thanks to a longer wheelbase, although the outside measurements of the car have barely changed.

“There isn’t a single area of this car in which we haven’t asked ourselves, ‘what can we do to deliver a superior customer experience”, said Ian Mathews. “We bring to market a car which sets new standards in refined performance, build quality and comfort.”

Engine and Powertrain

The new engine fitted in the LS430 is the 3UZ-FE, a 4.3-litre V8 with 32 valves and double overhead camshafts. It develops 281 DIN hp at 5,600 rpm and 417Nm of torque at 3,600 rpm. Mated to a computer-controlled five-speed automatic transmission, it powers the Lexus flagship from 0-62 mph in just 6.7 seconds, and takes it up to a top speed of 155mph. In spite of all this power, 3UZ-FE meets Step IV emission regulations.

The engine management systems are among the most sophisticated available, controlling fuel injection and ignition timing to thousands of a second.

The intelligent Variable Valve Timing (VVT-i) eliminates the traditional compromise between low-end torque and high-rpm horsepower by optimising valve overlap throughout the engine’s speed range.

Further adding to the efficiency of the 4.3 litre power unit, Lexus engineers reduced both the overall weight of the engine and the weight of component parts such as pistons. This along with a reduction in the friction of moving parts made a significant contribution to reduced NVH and greater fuel efficiency. The use of lead-free alloys in components such as valve-seats and connecting rods also contribute to preserving the global environment.

The LS430 engine is complemented by a new Super ECT (Electronically Controlled Transmission) five speed, intelligent automatic gearbox which can adapt its gear shift pattern to suit driving style and road conditions. The transmission is also linked to the computerised engine management system, to momentarily reduce torque for even less discernible gear changes.

Another feature : the Al Shift system recognises slopes. When driving uphill, the system will avoid unnecessary up-shifting, while during a downhill drive it is able to select a lower gear in order to provide engine braking.

ETCS-i (Electronic Throttle Control System – intelligent)

The ETCS-i monitors the engine operating conditions, to supply the optimal amount of torque under any circumstance. This results in smoother acceleration, superior hill-climbing ability and eliminates jerky starts. ETCS-i also controls the snow mode, cruise control and is linked to the VSC (Vehicle Stability Control) and the TRC (Traction Control) systems. ETCS-i works in synergy with the “torque-activated” powertrain control.

Torque Activated Powertrain

The Torque Activated Powertrain helps control the torque of the engine, by determining the level of throttle in function of the accelerator position, the engine regime and also the conditions under which the car is driving. As a result, the acceleration is smoother, and a constant speed can be maintained with the slightest movement of the accelerator pedal, also avoiding unnecessary downshifts.

Another feature of the Torque Activated Powertrain is its ability to recognise slopes. On climbing roads, it will increase engine torque to avoid downshifts. When driving downhill, it will select a lower gear in order to provide engine braking. The result is a more relaxing drive, making optimal use of the car’s power and doing away with the discomfort of constant gearchanges.

ACIS (Acoustic Control Induction System)

ACIS improves torque over the whole range, but especially in the low-speed range, by changing the intake manifold length in three stages. This is done by opening or closing two intake air control valves.

The powertrain of the new LS430 ranks amongst the most refined in the industry, delivering smooth power and a ride that even surpasses that of the outgoing LS400.

Revised suspension and optional air suspension

In addition to the Lexus philosophy resulting in an exceptionally powerful yet quiet and fuel efficient car, the latest chassis developments give the driver of the LS430 the highest levels of confidence and stability in all road conditions. The ride is serenely quiet and comfortable, to elevate travelling refinement to a new world-class level.

Improved packaging of the overall design gives a well-balanced front/rear weight distribution of 52/48% and a tighter turning radius of 5.2m for easier manoeuvring. The new front and rear suspension are designed to offer an exceptionally flat ride and straight line stability under even the most adverse road conditions. The aluminium-intensive design utilises new bearings and a longer wheel stroke for better ride comfort and responsiveness, while the lower unsprung weight of the components additionally aids ride and handling.

Electronically modulated air suspension

In addition, electronically modulated air suspension is available as an option on the Lexus LS430. The system utilises the non-linear H infinity control method – a technology pioneered by Toyota/Lexus – to control the damping of the air suspension and realise outstanding stability and ride quality. The system maintains vehicle ride height at a specified level regardless of the number of passengers or load level.

The height can be raised 20mm higher than the normal position for unpaved roads and is automatically lowered at high speeds to improve stability and aerodynamic properties. This generates a reduction in the coefficient of drag (Cd) from 0.26 to 0.25, the lowest of any car in the segment.


225/55R 17 Tyres were specially developed for the LS430, to combine cornering grip with enhanced wet weather performance and reduced rolling resistance to improve fuel economy. They are fitted on new seven-spoke aluminium wheels, adding a further touch of style to the car.

Designed and Built to the Finest Tolerances

In building the new LS430, Lexus used a supercomputer to digitise the precise surface design of the body. The unit of measure used was 1/1000 of a millimetre, ten times more precise than the typical measurements used by other car companies.

The result is more-precisely stamped sheet metal for better fit and assembly quality. While Lexus has won the JD Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study in every year it has been eligible, the company made 57 major improvements for even longer-lasting durability.

New welding methods, connections and structural design make the LS430’s body much more rigid. This and the ultra-precise build standards ensure yet lower NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) and the elimination of annoying noise frequencies.

The tighter construction tolerances allow visibly smaller gaps between the body, doors, engine and luggage covers. Along with flush glazing and careful control of aerodynamics, they contribute to major reductions in wind noise. This is further enhanced thanks to refined door pillar shapes and aerodynamically designed door panels and seals, as well as control of the airflow under the car using a flat engine undercover, fairings around the fuel tank and rear suspension and management of the airflow around the exhaust system and rear bumper areas.

As a result, the new LS430 achieves the lowest Cd figure (Cd 0.25 with air-suspension, 0.26 with coil suspension) of any car in the luxury segment.

A quiet ride is not the only benefit of improved aerodynamics; fuel efficiency is increased because of it, as is the stability at high speed.


The design of the Lexus LS430 was finalised after an exhaustive two-year period which involved a design competition across three continents and 16 full-size clay models. The body styling of the LS430 maintains the flavour of the original, but features shorter front and rear overhangs, as well as a slight wedge shape in the flowing lines from front to rear which create and elegant overall form, further enhanced by the use of 17-inch alloy wheels.

Large, upsweeping, asymmetrical High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamp units with keynote aluminised extension fairings create a distinctive front end, unique to the Lexus LS430, while the refined front grille reinforces the appeal of true Lexus presence.

The rear design highlights the more spacious cabin with simple yet refined styling. Traditional 3-stage rear combination lamps maintain the high quality image of the original LS 400, but are more shapely, enhancing the cleaner rear end styling of the new model.

The luggage compartment is 24% larger than the previous model (now, the boot measures 573 litres). This has been achieved by careful detail packaging, such as moving the fuel tank further forward, to liberate more customer-usable space. This is further enhanced by the use of link-type, bootlid hinges which are designed not to strike luggage as the lid is closed. Two courtesy lamps, one on the luggage compartment lid and a second one deep in the luggage area make night-time loading and unloading easier.

Consideration was given to reparability during the design of LS430. The bumpers have been developed to distribute impact over a broader area, reducing damage in case of a collision. The body structure helps to safeguard large and expensive parts.

The Highest Standards of Interior Style and Content

Before designing the LS430 interior, Lexus designers and engineers studied luxury and craftsmanship outside the automotive realm. They visited five-star hotels, including presidential suites and surveyed first class aircraft cabins and luxury jet interiors.

They also observed luxury jewellery and watch makers at work, as well as visiting quality guitar makers, to learn their secrets of moulding wood.

The large and comfortable interior space of the new Lexus LS430 has been designed to provide a special combination of ergonomics and emotion. The interior is designed for greater space, comfort and luxury, taking maximum advantage of the newly-developed packaging. Front headroom increased by 25mm, whilst the rear head room gained 40mm.

High-quality wood-grain panelling, featuring walnut grain, is extensively used on panel trims and in door inserts. Precise fit and finish emphasise Lexus craftsmanship. The sculpted trim flows into the dash, maintaining the feeling of integrity and quality, with instrument clusters carefully designed to complement the overall luxurious atmosphere.

The Lexus LS430 maintains the traditional ergonomic layout of analogue-type instrumentation for ease of use, the Optitron combination instrument panel located closer to the driver’s line of sight and featuring white LED figures and red LED indicator needles on a low-reflection, upwardly curved, smoked acrylic face. All Lexus LS430’s offer full leather trim as standard. The hides used are rigorously selected to reduce the chance of imperfections.

Both front and rear seats have been designed to enhance the feeling of luxury associated with the Lexus experience. They have the benefit of significant design input from Europe, being designed around European-sized mannequins and driving postures, which are more reclined than in some other markets. This requires different-length seat cushions and greater lumbar support.

Power adjustment, with pre-set memory functions is available as an option to tailor the rear seat to suit individual postures. When the doors are opened, an auto-return function, returns the seats to the previous position. Further comfort can be provided by specifying the optional massage function, which can gently soothe and vibro-massage rear seat passengers.

As an option, separate air conditioning for the rear-compartment can be ordered. It comes with a small cool box, incorporated in the centre-part of the backseat.

The front seats feature power adjustment in all dimensions, with a memory function for instantly resetting favourite driving positions. The power tilt and slide mechanisms located in the seat cushions allow 240mm of fore and aft movement, while the driver’s seat cushion can be adjusted in length by over 70mm for greater thigh support. Additional adjustments for the front seats include dual lumbar controls and the automatic adjustment of power headrests with seat sliding, to offer optimum comfort and protection.

Power adjustment for steering wheel tilt and reach is standard, with a memory function returning the controls to the pre-set position when the ignition is activated. Up to three combinations of preferred steering wheel, seat and mirror adjustments can be stored.

The steering wheel also features controls for the audio system, which includes as standard, an LW/MW/FM radio data system, cassette and an in-dash, single-feed six-disc CD changer, feeding a seven-speaker system (Nine speaker system is optional). The new CD changer location allows for a larger dual glove box.

Advanced Climate Control

The Lexus LS430 features as standard one of the most sophisticated climate control systems ever fitted to a production vehicle. The system utilises advanced electronics and sensor technologies to ensure a fresh comfortable and uniquely clean atmosphere in the cabin at all times.

The automatic recirculation system switches the airflow to recirculation mode when traffic fumes are detected. In order to do this, the system is equipped with a smog ventilation sensor. This sensor does not only detect HC and CO as it already did on the LS400, it is now also able to trace NOx. As a result, it is now more sensitive to diesel-fumes.

As an added benefit, the absence of polluted air ensures maximum air conditioning cooling performance in summer, and prevents fogging of the windows in winter. A newly developed clean air filter removes pollen and dust from the interior, and also has a deodorising effect, keeping the cabin air much cleaner. An air purifier comes as an independent option, or as a set option in conjunction with the optional rear air conditioning.

The air purifier treats the air inside of the cabin, to further clean it from dust, pollen and other impurities. In case of necessity and in function of the air outside of the car, it will add outside air to improve the air quality inside.

The system also features intelligent swing register control. In function of the temperature settings and the signals of the room temperature sensor, the solar sensor and the occupant detection sensor, the air conditioner ECU controls the orientation and the angle of the front centre registers.

In an initial stage of cooling down or warming up the interior, the registers will direct the airflow straight at the occupants. When the temperature in the interior has stabilised, the airflow is directed away from driver and passenger.

When the navigation system is fitted, the climate control and car audio functions are controlled by a central multi-display, utilising a 7.0 inch-wide LCD (liquid crystal display) screen with an infra-red, touch-sensitive panel to offer improved ease of use. Frequently needed audio and airco functions can be selected through conventional switches set around the display, which can be used regardless of the screen mode.

Climate Control Seats

A further refinement is the option of Climate Control seats for the driver and front-seat passenger. These utilise seat-mounted blowers to direct hot, cool or ambient air through air distribution channels in the perforated seat upholstery when specified. The system uses a Peltier element to generate the right air temperature. If the Climate Control seat option is not installed, then a conventional seat heater is installed for the front seats. This type of heater is always installed for the rear seats.

Navigation System

The Lexus GPS satellite navigation system has been further enhanced from the version previously used in the LS 400, by upgrading from CD (compact disc) to DVD (digital versatile disc) storage. The size of the touch-screen has been increased to 7 inches, to improve ease of operation and the visibility of the display. The DVD, which uses a smaller laser beam diameter, is able to store approximately 13 times the volume of data.

This allows for example, the storage of the many European countries’ road systems on a single DVD, removing the need to change discs in the system for long-distance travel. The Lexus Navigator system can even highlight points of interest, search for a house number or find petrol stations, in addition to showing the car’s exact position at any time on the dashboard screen and guiding its occupants with voice instructions to their selected destination.

Mark Levinson Audio

The new Lexus LS430 also offers the exclusive option of the ultimate in car audio, as a result of a unique collaboration with the one of the world’s most exclusive makers of home and concert audio systems, Mark Levinson.

The company, based in Middletown, Connecticut, USA has for the past three decades, created a unique market world-wide for the very best in audio quality. Its domestic systems cost between £15,000 and £80,000 and are the preferred choice of those who are particularly demanding when it comes to hi-fi sound.

For the first time, Mark Levinson is supplying an audio system for cars, after the company judged the cabin ambience of the Lexus LS430 to be the first in-car environment that was appropriate to allow occupants to experience and appreciate the subtle detail and nuance that separate the best systems from those that are merely good.

The Mark Levinson audio system features a custom-designed amplifier and eleven specially developed Mark Levinson speakers spread over 7 locations, linked to an AM/FM radio system, cassette and CD player with an in-dash 6-CD auto changer. Special refinements include DC servos programmed in software in the seven-channel system to prevent DC reaching the speakers and analogue amplifiers, which replace the ubiquitous ‘amp-on-a-chip’ components used on other systems.

Lexus Park Assist System

The bumpers of the Lexus LS430 can also contain six ultrasonic sensors at the front and four at the rear, providing input to the optional Clearance Sonar System which tells the driver when there are obstacles nearby, where they are and how far away. The system, a refinement of those used on earlier Lexus models uses smaller sensors which appear less obvious, but can sense an object a metre away forward or rearward, or at about 0.5m to either side.

Buzzers and a display on a monitor warn the driver, with the pitch of the warning sound changing according to the proximity of the obstacles.

Rain-sensors and low reflection/water repellent glass

Further attention to detail, fitted as standard, includes rain-sensors which automatically trigger the car’s windscreen wiper system, the use of the world’s-first low-reflection windscreen glass to reduce reflection from the dashboard and a water repellent coating on the front side windows, which aids rainwater dispersal and improves visibility. Laminated side glass offers even better levels of sound insulation.

Smart Key System

Another state of the art feature from Lexus is the LS430’s ‘Smart Key System’ option, which does away with conventional key manipulation. When the doors are locked and a person with the Electronic Key comes within about 1 metre of a door handle, the key communicates with the transmitter built into the door handle and matches ID codes, then a touch of the door handle unlocks the door.

The system also operates as a ‘Smart Ignition’. Once the person with the electronic key is in the car, its ID code is automatically recognised and the electronic key light in the instrument panel comes on. Then, by pushing and turning the engine switch, the driver unlocks the steering wheel and starts the engine. When the Smart Key System is switched off, the electronic key operates as a conventional key, with normal lock, unlock and trunk lid opening functions.

Door Closer System

Further enhancing the Smart Key system is an advanced Door Closer system, which removes any requirement for door slamming. The system senses a closing, but unlatched door in just 0.3 of a second and a built-in electric motor in both front and rear doors automatically pulls it closed until it latches. The system also includes a Door Check facility which holds the door open at any angle for exiting or entering.

Ignition Switch-Linked Automatic Electrical Retractable Mirrors

To avoid damage when the car is parked, the LS430 is equipped with side-mirrors that are automatically retracted when the ignition switch is turned from “on” to “acc” or “lock”.

Illuminated Entry System

Convenience and safety have been improved, thanks to the comprehensive illuminated entry system. In function of the unlocking and/or opening of doors, the front interior light, rear interior light, ignition switch light, front footlights, inside handle lights and even courtesy lights mounted in the exterior rear-view mirrors will automatically be lit up.

Increased storage space

Many storage spaces have been integrated throughout the cabin of the new LS430. The volume of the glove box has been increased, hinged door pockets have been adopted for the front doors and there is a special case for sun glasses mounted on the ceiling. Furthermore, there are new under-seat storage areas for driver and passenger, as well as a two step slide console between the two front seats.

New Colours

Five of the ten exterior body colours available for the car are new. The finest automotive enamels, with a high solid content, are used to ensure the smoothest possible finish as there are less VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) to evaporate. The excellent thermal flow of these paints also means that the paints are less affected by the undercoating during baking. This has allowed the use of a leadless cathodic primer, which combines body protection with being easier on the environment.


The Lexus LS430 is much more than one of the most luxurious environments on four wheels. Throughout the development, safety remained a primary target. As a result, the LS430 has become also one of the safest cars on sale today.

The body was designed to maximise the efficiency of impact-absorbing crumple zones in the front and rear, protecting the highly rigid passenger compartment. Substantial side impact protection bars are built into the doors. The front seat frames have been designed to transmit the energy of a side collision to the floor tunnel. Particular attention was also paid to crash-compatibility, helping to protect occupants of other cars in the event of a collision. But that is not all. An extensive host of safety-devices – both active and passive – help contribute to the safety of the LS430’s occupants.

Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA)

The LS430 is equipped with a four-channel ABS system, that is linked to the cars four ventilated disc-brakes. The EBD regulates the distribution of brake force front and rear, left and right, according to the driving conditions. A further significant safety enhancement is the use of Brake Assist, which interprets a quick push of the brake pedal as emergency braking and supplements the braking power applied to maximise braking performance in conjunction with ABS.

This overcomes a known problem in emergencies of drivers not applying sufficient force to the brake pedal. A key feature of Brake Assist is that the timing and degree of braking assistance is designed to ensure that the driver doesn’t discern anything unusual about the braking operation. When the driver eases up on the brake pedal, the system reduces the amount of assistance it applies.

Traction Control (TRC) and Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)

TRC is fitted to reduce wheel spin under acceleration and to improve tire grip on slippery roads, by reducing the output of the engine and applying the brakes when the system feels that one of the wheels is losing traction.

Driver control is further enhanced by a VSC system. The innovative VSC system, introduced on the 1998 LS400, monitors the vehicle’s behaviour during cornering and maintains vehicle stability by using the car’s ABS and traction control sensors to correct oversteer or understeer before it occurs by limiting rear wheel spin and lightly applying differential braking on slippery surfaces.


The new LS430 is equipped with dual SRS front airbags. The passenger airbag features two-stage variable-force activation. Sensors determine the force with which to deploy the front passenger airbag, hence helping to maximise the occupant restraint.

SRS side curtain shield airbags are also fitted as standard. Housed in the roof side sections, they inflate at the same time as the front seat mounted SRS side airbags to cover the front and rear side window areas. In addition, the front and rear seats are equipped with seatbelt pre-tensioners


Despite its improved specification and performance, the new LS430 is exceptionally kind to the environment. Although the capacity of the engine has increased, fuel consumption has been improved compared to that of the LS400 (23.6mpg on the combined cycle for LS430, compared to 23.0mpg for LS400).

Furthermore, the LS430 meets Step IV emission regulations. This was achieved with the help of three ultra thin wall, high-cell ceramic three-way catalytic converters (2 in front and 1 in the rear). To add to their efficiency, the exhaust manifolds have been executed in stainless steel, allowing the catalysts to reach their optimised operational temperature in less time.

Recyclable materials are used in many parts of the LS430. TSOP (Toyota Super Olefin Polymer), TPO (Thermo Plastic Olefin) or TPU (Thermo Plastic Polyurethane) are used for front and rear bumper covers, door mouldings, instrument panel…the list is extensive.

In fact, nearly 90% of the LS430 is now made out of recyclable material. Materials which have been recycled feature in luggage compartment trim, part of the engine under-cover, front fender splash shields and various other parts. And finally, the use of environmentally harmful products such as lead, chlorine and mercury has been drastically reduced compared to the current generation LS.

“The Lexus LS430 stands for ‘Probably the Best Car in the World’. It is our flagship” said John Howett, Vice President of the Lexus Brand in Europe. “It demonstrates something new that is happening in Lexus. We have engineering excellence in every component, but we are also adding more style, more emotion, more passion to Lexus.”


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Lexus LS430 – Redefining Automotive Perfection

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