So many times through these weekly pages we've told you about the latest in hybrid tech from around the world, but in most cases, we also added that the model was not likely to be seen in the region. Not any more.
Lexus is breaking the mould with the regional launch of its flagship hybrid sometime next year. However, UAE enthusiasts will be able to catch a glimpse of the LS 600h L a little sooner, when Al Futtaim unveils it at next week's Dubai International Motor Show alongside the race-hardened LFA.
Last month we went to Bahrain for a closer look at the 2010 LS 600h L.
The range-topping LS has been around for the last couple of years — since 2008 to be precise — and has undergone one revamp already. But the 2010 model has been put under the pen again and lent itself to greater distinction from the purely-petrol side of the family. Previous models donned the hybrid signature plus a blue L badge for passersby to recognise its green credentials.
This time, Lexus designers have taken it one step further. The front end offers the most change, with the widened chrome grille flaps accented by the centralised lower grille suggesting the improvement in performance over the LS 460 L.
Other enhancements include reshaped fog lights and the hybrid signature on the chrome door trims. As you travel to the rear though, little differs from the rest of the LS family, apart from the obvious 600h L tag. The 600 sets itself apart from hybrids (a word we usually associate with "underpowered") because, along with a reduction in fuel consumption (for an engine of its size) and a lower carbon footprint, you get more power. An extra 56bhp in fact, compared to its petrol-only sibling. That's thanks to a 0.4-litre increase in displacement in the V8 lump, now measuring in at 5.0-litres. That, coupled with the four electric motors placed on each wheel will canter you forward on the hooves of 436 horses.
OK, so it isn't actually a green-machine but it does tender a cleaner conscience to whoever may own one. Lexus suggests the powerhouse "delivers the performance of a V12 with the efficiency of a V6" and that's not far from the truth.
In between the whopping V8 and the electric motors lies some pretty impressive technology. The lighter, more compact nickel-metal hydride battery host to 240 cells and more power than in previous Toyota hybrids, comes straight from the astronautical world and can be found circling the earth in many a satellite today. Plus, you needn't worry about this baby over-heating, as the new design incorporates its own coolant system, a definite plus for the region.
The power to the wheels comes in a variety of flavours; full electric (EV mode) for those slow cruises under 40kph and the all too common traffic jams, petrol power alone for the long distance journeys, or if you need that extra kick, both electric and V8 muscle coming into the fold to give you added oomph.
The power is delivered to the wheels through the Electronically Controlled Variable Transmission (ECVT) courtesy of a two-stage reduction device, which extends the low-speed torque delivery for a smooth yet quick response. Most impressive though, is how the Lexus boffins have managed to compact the ECVT and the two motor generators that are both slaves to energy recovery and power delivery alike, into a space no bigger than the average transmission tunnel. Thus, there is no extension of the tunnel into the rear, crowding out the passengers, and the driver isn't obstructed when placing his foot on the go-pedal.
The LS 600h L is loaded with all the mod cons you'd expect from a premium saloon of its calibre, such as reclining massaging seats in the rear, sat-nav and pretty much everything else you can get in the rest of the LS range. Pricing is yet to be decided, though you can expect to see a lot of these on our streets by next year, the added power, rather than the greener credentials being the obvious selling point.
Model LS 600h L
Engine 5.0-litre V8 Transmission Dual stage ECVT
Max power 436bhp @ 6,400rpm
Max torque 521Nm @ 4,000rpm
Top speed NA
Plus Smooth, quiet ride less fuel consumption
Minus Not exactly a green car