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motoring Latest news and views from around the motoring scene Mercedes GL-Class Lexus LS

Details of the new Lexus LS have emerged, with the car adopting the sharper styling seen on the latest GS and being made

available for the first time in F Sport trim. The much sportier look will divide opinion in Lexus owners, but the aim for the company is to capture sales from existing BMW, Audi and Mercedes customers who expect more aggressive, stylish lines. In amongst 3,000 changes, Lexus has introduced its first ‘driving mode’ system, with Eco, Comfort, Normal, Sport S and Sport S+ featuring in a dial selector design that echoes systems seen on existing big German saloons. Lexus claims clever new welding techniques and ‘four-wheel interlock control’ technology have made the LS both more comfortable and better through corners, with a flatter cornering attitude and improved steering. The brakes have also been extensively re-tuned to give more power, sooner, with more feel, in an attempt to give the Lexus Flagship genuine interest outside of its traditional comfort and luxury remits. F Sport trim is new to the LS, and comes with additions that are aimed straight at equivalent BMW M Sport models. The ride height is 10mm lower, Brembo six-piston callipers feature on the front brakes and paddle-shifters with automatic downshift throttle-blipping are standard. Even more impressively, a mechanical limited-slip differential is included, alongside a device that amplifies the engine’s intake vibration and ‘introduces it into the cabin’. Whether this involves BMW-style fakery in playing engine noise through the speakers is as yet unclear. Continuing past Lexus form, though, the company claims the new LS is among the quietest and most refined cars in the world, listing comprehensive improvements to wind, road and engine noise insulation. New to Lexus are hollow-chamber ‘noise-reduction’ alloy wheels, which reduce the amount of road noise that reaches the cabin. Just one of the new LS’s advancements is in climate control. A system called ‘Climate Concierge’ uses up to 13 sensors around the cabin to accurately and quickly control the temperature across four interior zones.

2013 Audi R8 range is announced

The 2013 Audi R8 range with an eye-watering £91,575 starting price. Chief among the changes is the deletion of the automated manual gearbox from both the V8 and V10 versions. The six-speed manual gearbox remains, and is joined by a seven-speed S Tronic twin-clutch automatic that promises shifts ‘within hundredths of a second.’ It features a launch control mode that holds revs at the precise point that enables a maximum-attack standing start. The range opens with the 424bhp R8 V8, moving up to the 518bhp R8 V10, both of which hit their peak power outputs at or close to a screaming 8,000rpm. The new gearbox apparently reduces each car’s 0-62mph sprint by 0.3 seconds, as well as lowering CO2 output by 22g/km - not that environmental consciousness is at the top of the R8’s agenda. Fuel economy is 22.8mpg at best on the combined cycle according to the standard EU tests; a figure that applies to the V8. A new, 543bhp R8 V10 plus has been added as the 2013 range’s flagship. Complete with 25 extra horsepower, a whisker more torque, standard carbon ceramic brakes and carbon fibre-reinforced polymer bodywork additions, the V10 plus is the pinnacle of the range - until any special editions, at least.

The 2013 Audi R8 range will have an all-new, faster gearbox as well as a series of minor styling tweaks, all-LED lighting and equipment upgrades for most models.

Audi R8

Inside the new model a smattering of R8 logos remind the driver what they’re behind the wheel of, while minor changes include slight revisions to the gear shift paddle shape, instrument cluster design and the addition of chrome trim inserts. The V8 model will benefit from a significant boost to its kit list. As well as the all-LED lighting and new alloy wheel designs they now come with sat-nav, an iPod connection, Bluetooth and heating for the already standard Nappa leather seats.

40 Life Begins

SUV confirmed Full details on the GL-Class SUV have been confirmed by Mercedes ahead of the car’s UK debut in early 2013. Concentrating on increasing luxury and comfort over the outgoing model, Mercedes claims that the GL offers S- Class levels of noise insulation and comfort, with air suspension standard across the range. A stronger chassis brings gains in terms of vehicle crash performance as well as dynamics, helped by retuned suspension including the option of the firm’s Active Curve System, which comprises active anti-roll bars for reduced body roll. A huge suite of safety systems are either standard or optional, including Collision Prevention Assist, Attention Assist and Steer Control, which intervenes if the car wanders out of its lane. Although there are limited changes to its dimensions for 2013, the GL remains one of the largest SUVs available, with seating for seven adults yet retaining a useful boot space. Under the bonnet the GL will come in 350 CDI diesel form as well as 500 and 63 AMG petrol guises, although the diesel will be by far the most popular choice in the UK.

Mercedes GL

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