*more pics later today

Worlds first hybrid V8

Lexus has unveiled the LS600h – a performance hybrid version of its new flagship – at the 2006 New York International Automobile Show.

It will be the world’s first vehicle of any class or category to feature a full hybrid V8 powertrain.

The vehicle will build on the performance hybrid strategy to be released with the GS450h in May followed by the RX400h later this year.

The LS600h will combine an all-new five-litre V8 petrol engine with combined massive, high-output electric motors and a newly designed large-capacity battery pack.

It will deliver a peak, combined output of more than 320kW.

“The flagship LS600h, as with the entire Lexus performance hybrid program, is about Lexus stretching its reign as a technology and performance luxury leader,” said John Roca, corporate manager, Lexus Australia.

A new all-wheel-drive system will give superior handling, while a newly developed dual-stage electronic continuously variable-transmission will deliver the hybrid flagship’s considerable power.

With electric motors providing infinite torque from rest, the V8 hybrid system will deliver power seamlessly with impressive acceleration and passing speed.

The LS600h drivetrain is recognised as the automotive industry’s most advanced petrol-electric hybrid system. It is anticipated that it will provide 12-cylinder engine power with V6 fuel economy – estimated at approximately 14 litres/100km.

As a SULEV-rated (Super Low Emissions) vehicle, LS600h is estimated to produce just 20 per cent of the smog-forming emissions of a conventional five-litre V8.

“Obviously we save the best for the flagship. The original LS400 shook up the luxury auto market back in 1990, and the LS600h follows that tradition,” said Mr Roca.

“There is nothing currently available – or to my knowledge even in planning stage – that can offer LS600h’s immense power with its surprising fuel economy and low emissions.”

As released in New York, LS600h will feature a suite of world-first safety systems, such as Advanced Pre-Collision System (APCS), which can anticipate and act on possible collisions with pedestrians.

LS600h’s interior is predictably indulgent. Its 5151mm wheelbase will be 122mm longer than that of the LS460 available in Australia from November this year.

A host of Lexus-level luxury appointments include a four-person seating configuration with a fixed rear console and fold-out table, and a right rear-seat 45-degree recliner with ottoman and vibration massage.

A 19-speaker premium Mark Levinson stereo and 19-inch DVD fold-down screen are standard across the new LS line.

Be sure to keep checking back to see our official New York auto show photo gallery.

2006 New york auto show photo gallery

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