SAN DIEGO -- Lexus has introduced its first sport package on the LS 460 to take aim at the Mercedes-Benz S class.
The flagship LS, redesigned for the 2007 model year, is aging. And Lexus wants to attract younger BMW and Mercedes owners to the brand. The sport package, available only on the base rear-drive 2010 model, costs $71,755 in the U.S., including shipping, a $6,200 premium over the $65,555 base price.
The LS 460 will be the only Lexus with paddle shifters. Other features include a heated leather steering wheel, 19-inch wheels and summer tires, front brakes from supplier Brembo, sport-tuned air suspension, a lower body kit with sport grille and sport seats.
The sport trim has the same 4.6-liter, 380-hp engine, but software on the eight-speed automatic has been tweaked to give it a throatier sound, like that of the IS-F sports sedan.
"We want to get some European conquests — particularly the S class," says Ben Mitchell, corporate product planning manager for Lexus.
He says the typical LS owner is near 60. Lexus hopes the sport trim will attract those in the upper 40s to low 50s.
The Mercedes S550 has a 5.5-liter engine making 382 hp. It sells for $92,475, including shipping.
Through October, LS sales in the U.S. were down 53 percent to 8,192 units. S-class sales totaled 8,920, off 43 percent.