The Lexus LC, stunning as it is, had to defer to the boss. The new Lexus LS, making its first appearance in Asia, was placed high on the stage at Lexus’ GIIAS 2017 booth.

The premium brand’s flagship limo will be available in Indonesia as the LS 500L and hybrid LS 500hL in the near future, with prices reported to be starting from around Rp 3.5 billion (RM1.125 million).

The showcar here is an LS 500h. Officially unveiled at this year’s Geneva Motor Show in March after the LS 500 made its debut in January, the LS 500h is a hybrid version of the fifth-gen limo, which rivals the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series.

The LS 500h employs a 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine with Dual VVT-i and direct injection, which provides 295 hp and 350 Nm of torque on its own. It is assisted by two electric motors that sources its power from a 310 V lithium-ion battery that is 20% smaller than the nickel-metal hydride unit used in the previous-gen LS 600h.

Put together, the overall output from the hybrid system is rated at 354 hp, which is handled by the car’s Multi Stage Hybrid Transmission. It combines a four-speed automatic with a traditional hybrid continuously variable transmission (CVT) to recreate a 10-speed transmission. The big Lexus will sprint from 0-96 km/h (0-60 mph) in 5.4 seconds.

The tech is high, but it’s the LS’ design that will draw the most attention. The exterior is more curvy and flamboyant than before, but it’s the limo’s cabin that will take the red velvet cake – just look at it!

According to Lexus, the LS is the ultimate embodiment of the Japanese concept of hospitality known as omotenashi. In the context of a luxury automobile, “it means taking care of the driver and passengers, anticipating their needs, attending to their comfort and protecting them from hazards.”

The amazement starts when one opens the door. This has to be the most elaborate door panel design that this writer has seen, with hand-pleated trim inspired by origami. The finished three-dimensional pattern captures the Lexus “L” motif in its intricate folds, which is supposed to convey a different effect when seen in daylight or the cabin’s night illumination.

Fitting the very nice Art Wood from the dashboard and centre console to the doors would have been good enough for most, but Lexus chose to fit some ornaments instead. That’s the bit connected to the door handle, design hand-carved by Kiriko artisan glassworkers. Lexus says that the design was chosen through painstaking trial and error, and that it captures the contrast created by light and shadow.

It looks fragile, but the carmaker says that the glass panel has been treated using reinforcement technology to ensure that it’s robust enough for use in a vehicle. The hand-carved design is reproduced using advanced glass production tech, which scans and digitises tens of thousands of facets. The ornament then undergoes a series of treatments such as polishing and strengthening by the Japanese Takumi craftsmen.

The pleated trim and the glass ornaments combine for a look akin to wings of some mythical flying creature. The drama is enhanced by this show car’s red interior and dashboard. Too boudoir perhaps, but a brilliant showcase of the LS’ out of the box cabin design and attention to detail.

“Developing such a flagship model required a massive paradigm shift. Rather than being bound by the conventions that had defined luxury cars in the past, we aimed to create a car with innovative, emotional and sensual appeal that would draw customers’ eyes away from other luxury cars and provide entirely new values,” said chief engineer Toshio Asahi. Different indeed.