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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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Good for Toyota
By BailoutBenny on 9/14/2010 1:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
The FT-HS prototype isn't being marketed as a Lexus car, but it is supposedly the spiritual successor to the Supra. 400 HP, 0-60 in the 4s range, great design, retractable hard top, and great gas mileage and estimated price in the mid 30s. A Lexus version with full manual or at least paddle shifting instead of cvt and a bump in HP would be excellent!

Foreign manufacturers have enjoyed their prestige and performance above domestic manufacturers for so long that they allowed some of their brands to suffer. The lack of competition made them lazy.

BMW needs to clean up the M series of cars. The M3's performance and handling is now matched by a 30k Mustang GT. That is ridiculous. They need to stop focusing on heavy sedans and silly luxuries and make the M cars THE standard to measure by again.

Porsche has the Caymen S, which is a great car with so much more potential. Gimped by longer gears for slower acceleration, deliberately low hp and no turbo options so that it wouldn't sink the Carrera. It is a disgrace that Porsche won't take the platform to the heights it can attain but the 911 rakes in money for them and they don't want to sink their flagship. The Boxster Spyder was a cool surprise from them though.

Toyota is stepping up its game with the FT-HS and FT-86. If Lexus matches the base brand, even better. I'm really looking forward to what they put out in the next couple of years.

RE: Good for Toyota
By BailoutBenny on 9/14/2010 1:48:44 PM , Rating: 2
Honda, Honda, Honda WHAT are you guys doing? You give up racing, you eliminate the SC2000, NSX, RSX, and turned the Civic SI into a boat. Total lack of innovation. I used to love Honda but am dismayed with the state and direction of the company. Without racing, there is no Honda. Pathetic.

Mercedes has some good ideas in the pipe and their divorce from America has really done a lot to invigorate the company.

Ford, excellent work. You really turned around and started to engineer your cars. Honsel and Getrag were good choices for suppliers. Now we just need to see if the reliability matches the performance. Get rid of that live rear axle!

RE: Good for Toyota
By Chaser on 9/14/2010 6:11:17 PM , Rating: 2
BMW needs to clean up the M series of cars. The M3's performance and handling is now matched by a 30k Mustang GT.
There is NOTHING equal between ANY 3 series much less an M3 and a mass produced Ford Mustang. ESPECIALLY the handling. There's more to performance than smashing the gas peddle and holding the steering wheel straight.

Don't get me wrong the 2011 Mustang is a big jump for the line but there is a reason why BMW's are called ultimate driving machines. And that slogan is not made up it's upheld. The balance, steering feedback, suspension and weight distribution of any 3 series is why that line is always on the top ten list of buy recommendations by almost every legitimate reviewing authority in the U.S.

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. I most strongly suggest you take an M3 for a test drive if you can before you try and compare performance between Mustang and a BMW M3.

RE: Good for Toyota
By BailoutBenny on 9/14/2010 10:21:31 PM , Rating: 2
If you'd like, I'll send you pictures of me and my BMW. I DO know what I am talking about, which is why I am so disappointed in BMW. The mustang doesn't have the same quality interior as the BMW, but performance and handling wise, they are pretty darn close. Close enough that the 30k price tag of the mustang is far more compelling than the 60k price tag of the BMW. Aesthetically, I find the BMW more pleasing to the eye and the fit and finish is better on the M as well, and of course one is a Ford and one is a BMW, but if you are looking for bang for your buck, the new mustang has it. It doesn't make me happy to say it, but it is true. Perhaps you can troll around on m3boards or read a few reviews (motortrend or autoblog, perhaps) to see what others besides myself think of the new mustang gt. Motortrend in particular has a great head to head comparison between the two.

RE: Good for Toyota
By BailoutBenny on 9/14/2010 10:29:37 PM , Rating: 2
If you don't want to find the motortrend article, here is a summary:

Mustang GT matches the M3 in 0-60 and 1/4 mile.
Beats it in stopping distance and fuel economy.
Is .1s slower around the track.

I love the M3, but Ford themselves said the M3 was their target and they hit it right on the nose with the new GT.

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