Motor Trend attends the Lexus Performance Academy

Lexus Performance Driving Academy

A writer from Motor Trend secured a seat to the Lexus Performance Academy held two weekends ago at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana California. Here’s how the event broke down:

For the most part, it turned out to be a fun way to spend a day. The four-hour-plus event is broken up into several parts, about 30 minutes in length. The Academy starts off with the program’s rundown and a brief introduction to proper driving techniques by a professional driver. Afterward, attendees are split into four groups. Each will rotate through the day’s four sessions — autocross, team relay, lead follow, and advanced theory — before finishing up with a few laps in an IS F with one of the pros behind the wheel.

Each of the four events described sound like plenty of fun, particularly the lead-follow session:

Three people in IS Fs follow a pro driver in an IS 350 or IS 250 around a road course; in this case, the 1.4-mile course on the speedway’s infield. Despite the IS F’s power edge, keeping up with the pros predictably isn’t easy.

The writer’s main complaint was that the event was fairly basic and intended for only novices, though I wouldn’t have expected anything different.

Update: The event described here is the paid version of the Performance Driving Academy.

The Lexus LF-Xh Concept in Matte Black

During his visit to Toyota’s Mega Web complex in Tokyo, Flickr user mujitra took some photos of a matte black Lexus LF-Xh concept (click for larger versions):

Lexus LF-Xh in Matte Black

Lexus LF-Xh in Matte Black

Lexus LF-Xh in Matte Black

Lexus LF-Xh in Matte Black

The matte black paint, especially when combined with that great set of gunmetal wheels, makes this LF-Xh looks very menacing. It’s certainly an interesting way to display its next version of the people-mover RX, and one that I wholeheartedly approve of.

(I’m a huge fan of matte black, and judging from this, the 5Axis Project IS-F, and the LF-A racing prototype, I’d say Lexus is as well.)

New Information on the Lexus Dedicated Hybrid

Lexus Hybrid Engine

Although Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe announced that a new Lexus dedicated hybrid would be introduced way back in January, Toyota made it official-official in an Automotive News article released today:

Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday fired a fresh volley in the green car wars, promising two new hybrid vehicles and the start of lithium-ion battery production next year.

The two hybrids–one badged a Toyota, the other a Lexus–will debut at the Detroit auto show and come on top of the third-generation Prius car, also due in 2009.

Toyota didn’t give further details about the upcoming vehicles. But Masatami Takimoto, executive vice president in charge of r&d, said the Toyota will be larger than the Prius.

“It’s a totally new car,” Takimoto said in Tokyo.

It’s been long expected that this new Lexus hybrid would be a rebadged Toyota Prius, but this new quote from Takimoto makes me think otherwise. Instead, it’s quite possible that this new Toyota hybrid might be the closer relation.

Video Review of the 1992 Lexus ES 300

Looks like someone’s breaking into their old VHS collection, as Youtube user bajabusta has been steadily posting old segments from Motorweek. First there was the Lexus ES 250 vs. Infiniti M30 footage, and now it’s a review of the newly introduced 1992 ES 300:

I always get a kick of these back-in-the-day TV segments, they really paint a great picture as to just how the car was actually perceived at its release. I was interested to see that the ES 300 had the manual 5-speed transmission, which was only available in that first year. Also, the video’s worth watching just for the slalom test, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ES 300 move like that.

Lexus Video for the 2008 US Open

The 2008 US Open is being played this week, and Lexus is one of the event’s four sponsors. As expected, there’s some fairly extensive Lexus advertising being put together, including a funny short film featuring Annika Sorenstam, Charles Howell III, Raymond Floyd and Chi Chi Rodriguez in a car race to the Open (image below leads to video):

Lexus US Open Pro Video

Between this video and last year’s US Tennis Open advert, these sports sponsorships sure seem to bring out the lighter side of Lexus marketing.

(Also, on a related note, I read this interesting article about the USGA’s new corporate sponsorships and how it breaks down. Indepth and informative, if you’re interested in such things.)