Details on Lexus’ Future Lineup

Lexus GS-F

John Roca, the chief executive of Lexus Australia, just can’t seem to help himself when it comes to leaking new product announcements. In an interview with The Australian, Roca dropped information about a number of new vehicles in the Lexus pipeline:

  • Lexus will be expanding the F lineup to include the GS-F, which was rumored last year, and quite possibly a LS-F, both of which could be powered by a V10.
  • There’s definitely plans to produce a new entry-level Lexus, positioned under the IS, which would compete with the BMW 1 Series and Audi A3.
  • The dedicated hybrid, expected to be announced at next year’s Detroit Auto Show, would be separate from the new entry-level car, though that makes very little sense to me.
  • The IS coupe/convertible is being tested in Australia right now, and is expected to be released late next year.
  • The LF-A, seemingly stuck in concept form, will definitely see production, though it might not happen until 2011. Roca mentions that it may only be available in a left-hand drive configuration.
  • Lastly, the next generation RX will be released next year, and will remain a 5-seater. (This mirrors the comments of a poster on my site, who also says there’s a 7-seater on the horizon, most likely the JX we heard about last year.)

For a short interview, this is a lot of verified rumors. It’s unclear exactly how the new entry-level model is going to play out, and whether this Lexus “Prius” will be separate or the very same thing.

I’ll admit that the possibility of a LS-F has me intrigued, but it’s safe to say it’s at least 2-3 years away.

Technophobe Falls for the Lexus LS 600hL

The Lexus LS 600hL back seat

James Martin, an automobile reviewer for the Daily Mail, has an aversion to car technology, and was pretty sure he was going to despise the Lexus LS 600hL, but then something strange happened:

I’m not even into technology on cars. Four wheels and an engine is complex enough – after all these years, it still fascinates me how cars with all the same components can be so different to drive.

By contrast, when I get into a new car and have to get to grips with its “iDrive” or “Command” or “MMI” menu system, I’m not fascinated. I’m annoyed.

So guess what I’ve got on my driveway this week? Yep, it’s the most hi-tech car in the world. But the only annoying thing about the Lexus LS600hL is that I love it.

The review touches on what I would consider one of Lexus’ strongest points, no matter how complex the technology, they’re incredibly adept at making it easy to use, especially when compared to the competition. (Though I’m sure the opportunity to lounge in the backseat with a bottle of champagne and the telly didn’t hurt the review either.)

[Source: The Daily Mail]

Car & Driver Comparison Test: Lexus IS-F vs. BMW M3

Lexus IS-F vs. BMW M3

When I saw that Car & Driver was running a comparison test between the BMW M3 sedan and the Lexus IS-F, I knew it was a forgone conclusion, the BMW was going to come out on top. After all, the 3-series, which the M3 is based on, has been a fixture on C&D’s 10Best list for seventeen straight years, meaning a lot of the subjective elements of the comparison were going to fall in BMW’s favor. 

Regardless of the outcome, the comparison was incredibly even-handed and the cars were very well matched. Here’s their take on the IS-F:

On the racetrack, we worked the IS F’s manumatic transmission to keep the engine above 3800 rpm, which was satisfying and painless. Toggling the right-side aluminum steering-wheel paddle produces a kick-in-the-crotch shift that’s quicker than we could ever achieve with hand and foot. Downshifts are actuated via the left paddle, and the computer blips the throttle for a racy, seamless feel. The gear lever can be set to shift itself, and we rated this automatic on par with the M3’s manual unit, which is the first time we can remember heaping such praise on a slushbox. It’s that good.

It’s hard to argue with what this powertrain can produce. It brushes past 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, clears the quarter in 12.8 seconds at 114 mph, and runs briskly to a governed top speed of 172 mph. That’s Porsche 911 territory.

Still, final score: M3 233, IS-F 219. 6 of the 14 points separating the IS-F from the BMW fell under the hard-to-quantify Gotta Have It and Fun to Drive categories, with the remaining 8 points split among the rear seating, exterior styling and little differences here and there.

(Best part about this comparison is the data charts, particularly the powertrain report and the final results.)

The Real Lexus Numbers in Japan

Lexus Logo

Last month, Business Week published a story detailing Lexus’ lack of success in Japan when compared to its German competitors. As a respected magazine, it was easy to take their findings at face value, but by using some actual numbers obtained from the Japanese Automotive Dealers Association, the story looks to have been sensationalized slightly.

First off, here’s the figures for Mercedes, BMW, Audi & Lexus for 2007 and the beginning of 2008 (January and February numbers):

2008 2007
Lexus 5,552 34,803
Mercedes 5,560 46,811
BMW 4,568 47,103
Audi 1,840 15,224

Lexus was clearly outsold in 2007, however, Mercedes & BMW both boast a substantial advantage in one primary category: model types. Mercedes sells nineteen different models in Japan, a number that doesn’t take into account the different variations on each model (S450, S550, S600, etc.). BMW has a lot less at nine models, yet this still eclipses Lexus grand selection of four: the LS, GS, SC and IS. Also, it’s worth noting that Lexus doesn’t offer a single SUV in Japan.

But still, there’s no denying that Lexus was outsold by both BMW & Mercedes in 2007, by as much as 12,400, those are the numbers plain and simple.

However, looking at the 2008 numbers, where Lexus is only 8 cars behind Mercedes and close to 1,000 up on BMW, it’s hard to see how the car company isn’t improving in Japan. Time will tell if these numbers continue, but it’s hardly the doom and gloom painted by Business Week.

[Via: Autospies]

Companion Video from Auto Express’ IS-F/M3/C63 Comparison Test

Here’s a video to go along with Auto Express’ comparison test of the Lexus IS-F, BMW M3, Mercedes C63 and Audi RS4, though the RS4 is omitted from the footage, due to the fact that it’s been discontinued:

It’s nice to see all three cars as they cut a line across the same track, but the presenter doesn’t address the comparison test at all.