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Lexus LFA

Lexus IS-F

Lexus CT 200h
Lexus is looking for a change of direction

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.

Automotive 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 and acceleration."

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.

Toyota's official 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.





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