With the exception of a few sporting
models -- IS-F, LFA
-- Lexus is known to most as a purveyor of well-built, boring,
tomb-like silent luxury vehicles that do battle with the German
luxury trifecta: BMW, Mercedes, and Audi. However, Lexus is now
looking to change its stodgy image.
News reports that Lexus wants to beef up its performance
image to better compete with its more sporting rivals. The IS-F was
the tiny spark that showcased Lexus' ability to rub elbows with the
best performance machines from Germany, while the LFA is the
veritable flame thrower that represents the very best that Lexus has
to offer both from a powertrain and technological standpoint.
However, the luxury marque wants to
spread this performance DNA to the entire lineup according to Lexus
product development head Kiyotaka Ise. "Up until now, Lexus has
been about calm, stable luxury," Ise noted. "From now on it
will be more about agility and response, really feeling the braking
Although it seems unlikely that Lexus
will be able to do much to make the Camry-based ES float like a
butterfly and sting like a bee, the RWD-based LS and GS seem like
prime candidates for a "soul" transplant, while the smaller
IS (minus the “F”) is already mostly there when it comes to
sporting intentions (how about throwing in a manual for the IS350?).
In other Lexus news, the company is
going to expand its lineup of hybrids by introducing a new one with
each model revision. For example, when the next generation ES is
launched next year, a hybrid variant should come tagging along (the
current ES doesn't have a hybrid variant despite the fact that the
lesser Camry is available with such a powertrain).
"Compared to Mercedes or BMW,
hybrid technology is a key application in the Lexus," Ise aded.
"That's the most easily understood difference in the brands."
Currently, Lexus offers the HS
250h, GS 450h, RX
450h, and the LS
600h L. The CT
200h hatchback is coming to the U.S. next spring.
Twitter page also revealed that six new hybrid models will be
released before the end of 2012. There is no word on how many of
those vehicles will be Lexus-branded models.