Lexus LS (2012) first official picture

Published: 27 July 2012

Lexus has responded to supposed internet leaks of its new 2012 flagship saloon by releasing its own moody shot of the car.

The hybrid-only LS will go on sale later in 2012, after its worldwide in-the-metal debut at the Moscow motor show.

What's the inside track on the 2012 Lexus LS?

For a start, there's the snarly new face: it's likely this is an F-sport spec LS, a sporty bodykit version in the same vein as a BMW's M Sport or Audi S-line.

The LS's angular grille recalls the current F-sport GS saloon, a design element first seen on the LF-LC concept coupe. It's an altogether more dynamic look than previous, softer-edged Lexuses (Lexii?) that shows Toyota's luxury arm is determined to portray a more sporting image and attract younger buyers to the brand.

All models will be hybrid only - in the UK, at least - although in big Lexus cars this has always been more in a quest for better performance on the road, not at the fuel pumps. The outgoing flagship LS600h boasts four-wheel-drive, powered by a combined 5.0-litre V8 and electric motor that jointly develop 439bhp - more than a BMW M3, for heaven's sake.

Even back in 2007, that was good enough for a claimed 30.3mpg, thanks to the then-radical eight-speed gearbox. However, don't expect Toyota's finest brains to have been resting on their laurels, or been too busy playing with the sublime LF-A to have neglected the LS.

Expect the new car to have a downsized engine, more efficient electric motor and even better eco-credentials. However, Transport For London has wised up to luxury hybrids like the LS ducking into Congestion Charge exemption, and has moved the goalposts, so London-dwelling executive who wishes to travel in absolute opulence can no longer dodge a few quid when entering the capital.

We'll find out more details when the Lexus LS is officially unveiled on 31 July 2012.