How Much Horsepower will the Lexus IS-F Have?

The Lexus IS-F

There’s a survey over at Autospies right now asking: How much horsepower with the new IS-F debut with?

As of this writing, the leading guess is 440bhp to 450bhp with 23% of the votes, but what I found more interesting than the survey is the write up that accompanies it:

A few months ago Car and Driver reported that the 5L V8 had made as much as 483 hp in an (at the time) IS 500 mule. In April Road & Track also ran an article about future Japanese sports cars, where it said that Toyota was developing a new Supra and Lexus IS 500. Both would be powered by the same 5 liter V-8 putting out 450 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque in the Supra and detuned slightly for the IS 500 (IS-F). So many sources seem to indicate that Lexus may lead both the RS4 and the M3 and slightly trail the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG in overall horsepower.

Whatever the end result, it’s definitely assured, there’s a new horsepower race, and it’s only just starting.

TOM’S LS460 Body Kit & Modifications

TOM's Lexus LS 460

I spent some time today on TOM’S, Toyota’s authorized tuning shop, taking a look at their various Lexus body kits and modifications. Their new tuned LS 460 is a beauty, matching the exteriors of the Fabulous and Wald offerings in subtlety, but also adding an extensive range of very real performance modifications.

Here’s a list of the available mods:

There’s also more in the pipeline, including a speed limiter overide and a hyper-compressor kit. You can check out more photos of TOM’s Lexus LS46 at their website.

I’ve sent an email to find out about North American availability, I’ll update once I get the details.

NY Times Unimpressed with the Lexus LS 600h L

The Lexus 600h L

NY Times writer Lawrence Ulrich took the LS 600h L to task in today’s paper, unable to understand what possible benefit it could have over Lexus’ own LS 460, nevermind the V12 competitors the car is aimed at:

On the performance front, forget about the Lexus hanging with V-12 sedans like the Mercedes S600. Turns out that the Lexus can’t even outrun its own nonhybrid version, the LS 460 L. Nor is it appreciably quicker than V-8 competitors that cost $20,000 to $30,000 less, like the Mercedes S550, the Audi A8 and the BMW 7 Series, or the similarly priced Maserati Quattroporte.

Driven gently, the Lexus will indeed beat the mileage of its apples-to-apples V-8 rivals, but only by 1 m.p.g. to 3 m.p.g. A Mercedes S550 isn’t an egregious guzzler at an E.P.A.-rated 16/24 m.p.g., and I managed 19 m.p.g. during a recent test. And when I drove the Lexus in mildly spirited fashion, its mileage dropped to 19 m.p.g. It’s hard to see why such minuscule mileage gains would dazzle the type of person who’s ready to drop $100,000 on a car.

There are a lot of valid points in the article, but the central point is this: all of the extra weight from the hybrid engines and All-Wheel Drive system slow the car down considerably and shrink the trunk to the size of Kia Rio, with no appreciable gain in performance. In light of its $30,000 premium over a similarly equipped LS 460, it’s a very valid question to ask, why bother with the hybrid?

So why would anyone spend an extra $30,000 for this car? Certainly, the performance gains of 12-cylinder sedans aren’t always justified by their enormous premiums. Many people buy them for that V-12 badge on the fender, the exclusive message it sends. Ditto for the Lexus, but the roughly 2,000 people who’ll line up for the hybrid won’t be broadcasting their superior power, but their superior morals, however illusory.

As I wrote previously, this car is a forerunner of things to come, and as such it suffers from the mistakes of a work-in-progress. Things will get better for the LS 600h L, the car will shed some weight and add more power in future iterations, to bring it more inline with the V12s that Lexus wants to compete with. It could be only the massive financial expenditure of development that forced Lexus to bring this car out in its current state, though that’s purely speculative on my part.

Redneckin’ in a Lexus IS 350

I can’t conceive of a single reason why someone would take their brand new IS 350 into a field to do doughnuts, but it certainly isn’t the first time I’ve been left speechless by a Lexus owner.

Lexus Face?

Barry Brownstein, professor of economics and leadership at the University of Baltimore, has served up some criticism of Lexus Japan’s new sales techniques:

A “Lexus Face” [a peaceful Ogasawara-style closed mouth smile said to put customers at ease] put on the face of a Lexus employee will fool nobody if either the employee does not have positive regard for their customer or the employee does not have autonomy to demonstrate their regard by the service they perform.

It is out of a frame of mind that has a genuine desire to be of service that we go beyond the need for technique. A “Lexus Face” may be better than a scowl, but not much better; especially if the “face” is not accompanied by sincere regard and the autonomy to be of genuine service.

Something Brownstein disregarded is his critique is that Lexus has consistently been tops in owner customer satisfaction since releasing their first car in 1989, and it’s doubtful this was achieved by anything less than a “genuine desire to be of service”.

I will agree that appropriating old world samurai techniques in a superficial way would come across as nothing but a farce (not to mention disrespectful), but even in the original WSJ article, it seems the employees are taking it to heart:

Yuka Miyazaki, 24, a Lexus sales consultant in Tokyo, says it took time, but she eventually became so accustomed to the manners she sometimes can’t shake them when she goes out. “I was at a coffee shop with friends the other night,” says Ms. Miyazaki. “And I bowed with both hands crossed at the waitress.”

All in all, there’s nothing in Lexus’ history to suggest that this is anything but a sincere attempt to make Japanese customers enjoy their car purchase.