What’s Next for Lexus?

Lexus IS Family Group Shot

According to a Drive interview with IS chief engineer Junichi Furuyama, Lexus continues to weigh their options regarding their next vehicle:

“There are many jobs for us, many shopping lists for the new development of vehicles,” says Furuyama-san. “So, how to manage the priorities of the new vehicles: coupe, we need a coupe; wagon, is a strong request in Europe; and a bigger SUV is a strong request from the US. There are many requests from the global [market].”

“Of course, US say ‘oh, the bigger SUV is number one’, and Europe says ‘no, no, no – we don’t need a bigger SUV, we need a wagon or small SUV’; so we have to manage many requests from global, and make a decision which model is the first priority and which model is the most efficient,” he says.

It seems likely that Furuyama-san is recounting a very old argument, as plans to reveal a compact crossover concept at the Tokyo Motor Show were announced earlier this year. However, it’s interesting to see more emphasis on a larger SUV and an IS wagon — the larger SUV was hinted at by Lexus USA’s VP of marketing Brian Smith in a Ward’s Auto interview this past April, and an IS wagon was dismissed by former Lexus International VP Kazuo Ohara in January.

There are a couple other interesting passages in the Furuyama-san interview, including this quote on expanding the IS family even further:

Furuyama-san says in an “ideal” situation, the brand would be able to offer a number of IS variants.

“That is the ideal. I want to have all variants – like BMW, or Audi, or Mercedes-Benz – they all have sedan, wagon, coupe, convertible and also the Gran Turismo,” he says referring the the 3-Series lineup’s latest addition. “I can’t believe why they can produce such kind of many variants. We don’t have such resources.”

Furuyama-san also discusses the possibility of a next-generation IS F:

“I understand that IS-F model for the Lexus is very important. I will carefully investigate how to create the next F model,” he says, but he wouldn’t be drawn to comment on timing for the new performance hero model.

“I cannot say exactly when right now. At least I can say right now that the current IS-F [will] continue to sell for a while. But in future, I don’t know.”

The reluctance to discuss a next-generation IS F does give some credence to the idea that the high-performance sedan will be cancelled.

However, with a mid-size coupe based on the LF-CC all-but-guaranteed, and with Lexus registering both RC 350 & RC F trademarks, a super-coupe could be in line to replace the IS F in the Lexus lineup. Interesting times, to be sure.

Read the full interview with Junichi Furuyama