LEXUS plans to expand its hard-core F model line-up to further take on the iconic performance arms of its German rivals.
Speaking in New York at the launch of the RC F, the brand’s new performance hero, F brand chief Yukuhiro Yaguchi said he sees real potential for growth.
“We definitely would like to see F models grow with various models within the line-up,” he said.
“We don’t reveal future product plans, but at this point the next logical F car will be the new generation IS F at this point. What we have is the RC F, which is a coupe, so do we need an IS F or do we need to expand more in other areas?”
The news was welcomed by Lexus Australia box Sean Hanley, who told Wheels any new F brand models – which stands for Fuji Speedway, where Lexus tests its hardest and fastest models – would sell well in Australia.
“I think there’s a significant opportunity for Lexus to expand on the F brand and the F Sport brand,” he said. “We see an opportunity in Australia and I’ll tell you now, if we have any F Sport models made available to us, we’ll take them straight away.”
Hanley said the F brand is already a proven entity Down Under.
“Our sales mix for F Sport is going through the roof,” he said. “It’s clearly since we switched to this new design, the big spindle grille. And the harder F models have a big following, too.”
Like BMW and Mercedes, Lexus offers a less hard-edged pack (F Sport) across most of its range, which sits below fully blown track-focused F brand models.
Yet, despite the brand’s increasing popularity, Lexus has resolutely refused to build a high-performance SUV to rival the Audi RSQ3 or the bigger BMW X5M.
“No, not at all,” Yaguchi said. “To have an F badge, a car needs to have a characteristic to run on the race track, therefore it doesn’t really have it to have an SUV as an F model. We might have F sport models in the SUVs, but as far as a full F model, no.”
Don’t expect an F version of the little Lexus CT, either, with Yaguchi saying any future F brand models won’t be smaller than an IS.
“I’m not interested in doing anything with a front-wheel-drive platform, or anything below a V8 at this time.”
While a new-generation IS F is most likely to be the next F brand car, there’s also talk of a GS F, possibly with a twin-turbo version of the 5.0-litre V8 used in the RC F and IS F.
“We have no plans at this time, but it is possible to turbocharge that engine, yes.”
Who do you think deserves to win the 2017 COTY title? Cast your vote for a chance to win $1,000.
Sign up here to receive the latest round-up of Wheels news, reviews and video highlights straight to your inbox each week.