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Airbag sensor recall in NZ

Toyota New Zealand is recalling 3,408 Toyota and Lexus models due to a possible concern with the air bag sensor.

Impacted models include the Toyota Corolla, Toyota Hilux, and Lexus NX 200t, manufactured in the second half of 2015.

The recall is due to the possibility that the insulation layers around the pressure sensor may peel over time, causing the airbag warning light to illuminate.

This can also lead to the curtain shield (side) and front airbags becoming deactivated.

There are currently 765 Toyota Corolla, 2,542 Hilux, and 100 Lexus NX200t affected in New Zealand.

The remedy will be completed free of charge by Toyota and Lexus dealerships and will depend on inspection of the vehicle for time of repair.

Owners of the vehicles, which are traceable through registration data, will be contacted by Toyota New Zealand through a remedy owner letter. 

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The new Lexus LF-1

The Lexus LF-1 Limitless has debuted at the North American International Auto Show overnight.

The Lexus LF-1 is deemed a showcase of technology, innovation and the latest evolution of design at Lexus. The concept has a sleek, sporty look, and a range of features designed around alternatives tailored to a potential owner’s drivetrain preferences and more.

The possibilities for the vehicle are indeed limitless – the LF-1 concept is capable of being powered by fuel cell, hybrid, plug-in hybrid or an all-electric powertrain.

This comes as no surprise as every Lexus model, by around 2025, will be available as either electric or have an electrified option.

“The LF-1 Limitless concept incorporates imaginative technology, and brave design while catering to the diverse lifestyles of customers,” says Paul Carroll, Senior General Manager of Lexus New Zealand.

The concept also has automated driving features, including self-parking and drive-by-wire steering, braking signalling and more. A “four-dimensional navigation system,” with the fourth dimension being time, meaning the vehicle can anticipate your upcoming destinations, etc. based on your schedule and other personal information.

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Lexus LC Coupe debuts in New Zealand

The Lexus LC 500 Coupe has launched in New Zealand, with 10 models already snapped up on pre-order.  

Two powertrain options are available on the two-door coupe, which is built in Lexus’ Motomachi factory. A 5.0-litre V8 engine powers the petrol variant and is matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission, producing 351kW of power and 540Nm of torque.

A hybrid option is also available, which contains a 3.5-litre V6 engine partnered with a 310-volt lithium-on battery for a total 264kW of power.  The hybrid engine is matched to a combined CVT gearbox and traditional four-speed automatic transmission.

Since its launch, the Lexus LC 500 has won several design awards, including the 2016 Production Car Design of the Year, and ‘best production car’ design at its launch at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The ergonomically-designed cabin also contains a 10.3-inch infotainment system and Satellite Navigation. Drivers can choose from six driving modes – ECO, Comfort, Normal, Customise, Sport S and Sport S+.

The LC 500 and 500h come with the Lexus Safety System+, which includes pre-crash safety system, autonomous emergency braking, an all-sleep dynamic radar cruise control, automatic high beams, lane-keeping assist and lane-departure alert, and vehicle sway warning.

Pricing starts at $215,000 for the glass-roof model with either the V8 or hybrid powertrain.

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NZ date set for Lexus LC 500 launch

Lexus has announced its New Zealand launch of the LC 500 coupe, with the vehicle to hit domestic dealerships from mid-July.

The new LC 500 contains a 5.0-litre V8 engine, which generates 351kW of power and 540Nm of torque, and is matched to Lexus’ first direct shift 10-speed close ratio automatic transmission. 0-100km/hr takes 4.7 seconds.

The 500h is powered by a 264kW 3.5-litre V6 hybrid engine containing a lithium-ion battery and two electric motors paired with a new multi-stage hybrid transmission. Engineers have combined a CVT gearbox with a conventional four-speed automatic to emulate a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Reaching 0-100km/hr is a fraction slower than the V8 500, at ‘under five seconds’, according to Lexus. An ‘EV-only mode’ has been included, where the driver can switch off the petrol engine at speeds up to 140km/h, although there’s been no confirmation of driving range.

Pricing will begin at $215,000 for the glass-roof model in both the V8 and hybrid powertrain, and $220,000 for the carbon-fibre roof option, which contains four-wheel steering and variable gear-ratio steering.

Ten vehicles have already been pre-ordered in New Zealand. In Japan, buyers face a three-year waiting list due to high demand.

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‘Edgier’ NX SUV destined for NZ

Lexus has unveiled an edgier looking NX compact SUV at Auto Shanghai that will arrive in New Zealand before the end of the year.
 
Paul Carroll, the senior general manager of Lexus New Zealand, says “the styling of the latest model has been taken to the next level”.

Carroll expects the 2018 NX to continue the strong surge of sales by SUVs. Three quarters of Lexus’ sales last year were SUVs, with the NX and RX taking the lion’s share, with nearly three quarters of them being hybrid models.

Lexus has sold 183 new passenger vehicles in New Zealand during the year to March 2017 and has 0.7 per cent of the new passenger vehicle market share here.

Lexus’ Safety System + will now be available on all new models. It combines the pre-collision system, radar cruise control, lane departure alert, automatic high beam and intelligence clearance sonar. The suspension has also been revised to improve turn in steering response.

The NX will continue to be available in standard, Limited and F Sport models with a choice of two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive across the seven-model range.
 
Details on engine specification and pricing will be announced closer to the New Zealand launch date.
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‘Mullet Amnesty Day’ no joke

Daniel McNicholl before the big chop

Holden’s ‘Mullet Amnesty Day’ on April 1 was no joke for West Aucklander Daniel McNicholl, who won a brand-new Holden Astra in exchange for sacrificing his mullet.

McNicholl was the only one to try his luck at West City Holden on Saturday, where he was greeted by race car driver Greg Murphy and a hairstylist.

“I thought it was probably a joke,” McNicholl said. “I decided to turn up in case it wasn’t, and I’m bloody glad I did.”

A suspicious McNicholl refused to believe it wasn’t a prank until Murphy gave him the keys to the Astra, bearing the numberplate 0MULET.

The new car is a welcome relief for McNicholl and his partner, after their previous car, which was uninsured, was stolen.

McNicholl’s suspicion is unsurprising, given the long history of car makers pulling elaborate April Fool’s Day pranks to boost brand awareness and generate online interest.

McLaren’s ‘Feathered Body Wrap’

This year was no exception, with McLaren, BMW, Hyundai and Lexus, among others, releasing outrageous ‘new’ products over the weekend.

McLaren announced the ‘Feathered Body Wrap’ option for its 570GT model on Saturday, promising the finish weighed as much as coat of paint and was aerodynamically optimised to reduce drag.

Hyundai’s ‘Click to Fly’ service featured a drone that would deliver vehicles ordered online directly to the customer’s door via hydrogen-powered drone capable of carrying up to 2000kg.

The Lexus Lane Valet software, which was showcased in a convincing promotional virtually indistinguishable from its regular advertisements, claims to communicate with vehicles driving too slowly on the road and safely directs them to the appropriate lane, allowing the Lexus to pass.

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Lexus LS 500h hybrid unveiled

The hybrid Lexus LS 500h has been officially unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show following the launch of the petrol-powered V6 model in Detroit at the beginning of the year.

Lexus’ new LS 500h is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine and two electric motors, which produces a combined 264kW matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission. The hybrid can achieve 0-100km/h in 5.4 seconds, and can run at up to 140km/h with the petrol engine shut off. The lithium-ion battery is 20 per cent smaller than the unit inside the LS 600h, providing an extra 25 litres of luggage space.

The powertrain is matched with the new luxury platform, which debuted in the LC coupe and features here with a longer wheelbase. The platform design allows the car’s centre of gravity to be lower and moves the mass to the centre of the chassis. Adaptive variable suspension helps to increase wheel control and steering response.

An advanced safety system features the world’s first intuitive pedestrian detection function with active steering. If the system detects a pedestrian on the road and judges a collision is imminent, it will automatically apply the car’s brakes and steer around the person, while keeping to its traffic lane.

The car is also equipped with up to 14 airbags and the all-new CoDrive support system, which provides steering control, which adjusts to driver preferences, and continuous driving support on motorways.

Details on pricing and a release timeframe are to come.

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2017 Lexus IS arrives in NZ

The 2017 Lexus IS sports sedan has been revealed by Lexus New Zealand, with an unchanged line-up from the previous year and improved safety features.

The engine and transmission range remains unchanged from 2016. The IS 200t contains a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. The mid-range IS 300h option has a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine and electronic continuously variable transmission, and the IS 350 contains a 3.5-litre V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission with manual mode. The suspension spring rate of the coil springs and upper supports has been optimised, along with the damping characteristics of the shock absorbers.

The Lexus safety system package is standard on all IS models, which now includes pre-crash safety system, dynamic radar cruise control, lane departure alert with steering assist, sway warning system and automatic high beam. All variants have 10 airbags and a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Pricing starts from $74,300+orc for the Lexus IS 200t, $77,300+orc for the 300h and $107,900+orc for the 350F. All models are available at registered Lexus dealers.

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Lexus SUVs increase in popularity

Lexus sales have increased by 12 per cent in 2016 – from 641 vehicles sold in 2015 and 720 in 2016.

According to senior general manager of Lexus New Zealand, Paul Carroll, an increasing share of the luxury market is SUV sales. “Our SUVs – the NX, RX and LX – have made up 73 per cent of all our sales.”

“Lexus has progressively evolved its model range to meet our customers’ insatiable desire for premium SUVs,” Carroll
 says.

“The growth in the SUV segment in New Zealand’s luxury market is even more pronounced than at the mainstream end of the market,” says general sales manager, Steve Prangnell,.

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New Lexus CEO

Paul Carroll has been appointed as the senior general manager of Lexus NZ.

Carroll has spent the last five years as the Vice President of Lexus Asia Pacific, based in Singapore, and will be returning home to take up his new position from the beginning of the year.

“I think Lexus has strong opportunities in New Zealand,” said Carroll. “There is worldwide recognition
of our brand shift from conservative and reliable to imaginative, exciting design-led luxury vehicles and
SUVs.”

“We will be launching the LC 500 coupe in 2017 with a choice of V8 and hybrid power trains and the
latest LS sedan will be a technological masterpiece.”

Carroll joined Toyota New Zealand in 1979 as a product engineer at a time when the company still
had local assembly operations at Christchurch and Thames.

He worked at the company’s national customer centre responsible for parts, service and training and
then as the general manager of sales and dealer operations and then after-sales and customer care
when he became an executive director.

Carroll transferred to Singapore in 2011, where he has been involved in regional marketing and local
market co-ordination for product, training and after sales development.

Carroll said the challenge in New Zealand was to get luxury car buyers to take a Lexus test-drive
ahead of its rivals.

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NZ in Lexus Design Award

New Zealand entrants will be taking part in the International Lexus Design Award for the first time in the awards five-year history. (more…)

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