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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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RE: My opinion
By Chaser on 9/14/2010 6:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
Lexus may be worlds apart from BMW/Audi/Mercedes when it comes to being a driver's car and snob appeal, but that's about it. They clearly match or surpass them in dealership experience, reliability, build quality, etc.
Brandon I'm going to have to disagree with you. I go through a lot cars. I just sold my 2008 IS F and bought a 2010 M3. When I bought the IS F I really had hopes for the car. But every comparo out there gave the win to the M3 over the LS F, CTS V, and Audi. The IS F is not a bad car at all. Its pretty slick. But the comparisons vanish once you drive an M3. It's a completely different world in that car. The IS F had unforgiving, nonadjustable track suspension. It's awful. The I series interior as a whole looks plastic and cheap and its Japanese performance ergonomics just isn't designed as a "drivers" car that works with you as you drive. The Japanese design things 2 dimensionally compared to BMW performance designs. Lexus slaps a bunch of gadgets and vents into the interior like all the other I series cars and bolt in a larger V8 and call it an M3 competitor. Don't get me wrong I lived in Japan for 6 years, I used to own an EVO VIII which is a very respectable performance car in its class. But even that car can't hold a candle to a 335I.

The M3 is stunning to say the least. Its suspension, feedback, and balance makes it so much more car than any Lexus I've ever driven. There's a reason the M3 almost always ends up on top against the other performance contenders. Motor Trend just got lambasted by their readers for choosing the M3 over the rest. But there's a reason. Drive one and you'll get it in 10 minutes.

RE: My opinion
By dubldwn on 9/14/2010 9:17:27 PM , Rating: 2

I think you misread his post. He conceded BMW/Audi/Mercedes are more driver's cars (which has been proven) and more snob appeal (which you have proven), but that Lexus clearly matches or surpasses them in dealership experience, reliability, and build quality, which are facts.

RE: My opinion
By FITCamaro on 9/14/2010 11:36:38 PM , Rating: 2
Just wait until you're paying a few grand for a brake job on the M3. Not to mention trying to work on it yourself.

I don't like owning cars I can't work on. Even if I had all the money in the world.

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