Caught for the first time carrying production headlights and taillights.

To say a new Lexus LS is overdue would be an understatement, as the fourth-gen (XF40) has been around for a decade and it’s actually the oldest model in its class. But the good news is the wait is almost over as an official reveal is likely around the corner, taking into account the prototype spotted appears to be ready to drop off that black fabric and reveal its sleek body.

The fact that it has only a thin layer of disguise and it’s carrying the production-ready headlights and taillights suggests Lexus is almost ready to host an official reveal. It even has a rear-seat entertainment system with dual tablets mounted on the back of the front seats, thus further indicating an imminent official premiere of the fifth-gen LS (XF50).

Lexus LF-FC concept
Lexus LF-FC concept

With a concept being shaped in most cases after the final design of the production car, the LF-FC unveiled a little over a year ago should paint an accurate picture of what to expect from the revamped LS. A huge spindle grille, Nike logo-like LED daytime running lights, much sleeker body, and a pair of sharp taillights. Overall, the new Lexus flagship is expected to significantly grow in size and come with a longer wheelbase stretching at more than 3,000 millimetres for the standard variant, with even more room between the two axles for the LWB variant. Looking at the size of the third-side windows, you already can tell the crown jewel is bigger.

We’re willing to wager Lexus will unveil the next-gen LS next month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

About the cabin, Lexus has made the promise it will have “some cool interior stuff,” but without going into any details. We imagine the new LS will be a technological tour de force with a high-end infotainment system, all-digital instrument cluster, and a plethora of safety and assistance systems. In addition, a boost in quality and refinement is also expected to make sure the 2018 LS will put up a good fight against the BMW 7 Series, next year’s Mercedes-Benz S-Class facelift, and all-new Audi A8.

Seeing as how the LS will ride on an entirely different platform than the outgoing model, it’s safe to say it will undergo a strict diet that should shave off a considerable amount of weight, despite the increased footprint. Engine lineup remains a mystery at this point, although a hybridized 3.5-litre V6 from the LC 500h and a 5.0-litre V8 from the LC 500 are expected. With the aforementioned LF-FC concept rocking a “high output” fuel cell setup, it will likely be offered on the production car later during its life cycle.

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We’re willing to wager Lexus will unveil the next-gen LS next month at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Production is expected to start by mid-2017, so that would make it a 2018MY for the U.S. of A and Canada markets, following a fall launch at home in Japan.

Photos: Automedia

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