Reinventing the speedo

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Whether we’re talking about the introduction of Optitron instruments in the LS, chronograph-style gauges in the first-generation IS, or the animated liquid crystal display in the LFA supercar, attractive dials have always provided a talking point within Lexus interiors.

The IS 300h F Sport model delivers the latest chapter in this ongoing history of Lexus instrumentation, for its LCD graphics and mobile centre ring is a direct descendant of the setup found in the LFA.

Human-oriented interior design is a fundamental part of L-finesse design philosophy, reflected here in the way the dashboard is divided into distinct display and operation zones.

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But for the purpose of this blog post we’re concentrating on what’s glowing behind the new three-spoke, steering wheel. Appropriately, the design of the steering wheel was also inspired by that fitted to the LFA supercar and marks the first time that Lexus has configured one to co-ordinate multimedia system control with both meter and centre console displays.

On start-up the instrument binnacle comes to life with vibrant, sharp-edged LCD graphics, illuminating the central meter first before being flanked by two vertical gauges for water temperature and fuel level. The sans-serif font is unfussy and instantly readable, while the white-and-blue lighting emphasises the status of the IS 300h as an eco-friendly vehicle.

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Further information and an extensive sub-menu becomes available with a push of the meter control switch on the steering wheel. Thumb this button and the driver’s meter glides gracefully to the right, creating a large area that can be filled with anything from hybrid energy flow graphics to colour options for the rev counter needle.

Ah yes, the rev counter. The IS 300h may be a hybrid but it is not always so saintly in its instrumentation, for the latest iteration of Lexus’s Drive Mode Select system can be used to change the car’s behaviour, the information displayed, and lighting appropriate to a press-on mood. Changing the driving mode to any of the three Sport settings automatically switches the hybrid system indicator to a tachometer and the ambient lighting from blue to red.

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We would be surprised if this transformation in the instrument cluster didn’t plaster an evil grin on the face of the driver as he or she recalls its similarity to the design of the LFA’s rev counter. Meanwhile, the immense level of personalisation available within the system will have others flicking through the menus with the delight of a tech-head with a new gadget.

But the purpose of the new dials is more than just an attractive way of displaying speed and engine functions. They can also be used to monitor and improve your driving skills in order to work more harmoniously and efficiently with the hybrid drivetrain.

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Overall, the Lexus IS 300h delivers a snug, focused and ergonomically ideal environment for the driver, encouraging full exploitation of the car’s driving dynamics. Meanwhile, the adoption of innovative LCD technology in the instruments ensures the dials are poised to animate the corresponding messages and deliver the appropriate ambiance.

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