Lexus to launch three F-Sport models next year

words - Joshua Dowling
RX soft-roader, LS limousine and GS sedan get anti-aging treatment

The F-Troupe of cars is coming, to help Lexus replace its white-shoes image with a smart-casual outfit.

As we reported a month ago, a trio of sportier-looking models designed to give Lexus a more youthful appeal are due next year after early success with F-Sport versions of the IS sedan and CT hatch.

The cars will look the part, with unique wheels and subtle body enhancements.

They will get adjustable settings for steering, throttle and in some cases suspension and brakes.

But none of them will get more power.

“Sporty does not always equal power,” says Lexus corporate manager Peter Evans. “There are many other ways to add sporty appeal to a car other than power.”

The formula seems to have worked well enough so far. In less than 12 months, F-Sport versions of the IS sedan and CT hatch – which have visual enhancements, some throttle and steering adjustment and no extra power – account for 25 per cent of all Lexus sales in Australia (split by 43 per cent IS sedan and 31 per cent CT hatch).

“We know there is a ready market and we’re keen to give them more,” said Evans. “We researched the recognition of F-Sport among a sample group of luxury car buyers and 18 per cent without prompting identified the F-Sport brand.”

Audi’s S-Line had twice the recognition at approximately 36 per cent while Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division and BMW’s M division both had more than 50 per cent brand recognition.

“It’s still early days for us, but it’s an impressive result when you consider we’ve only been out there for 10 months.”

The new generation GS mid-size luxury sedan is likely to be first with the F-Sport treatment, while sportier versions of the LS limousine and RX soft-roader are likely to coincide with facelifts to those models later in the year.

Evans said the F-Sport models were designed to reduce the average age of Lexus buyers. So far on the IS, F-Sport has attracted a demographic five years younger than the traditional IS buyer.

The same reduction hasn’t occurred on CT hatch buyers, however, because they are typically younger to start with, he said.

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Published : Wednesday, 17 August 2011

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