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Where Are the Lexus F Models?

I was recently thinking about Lexus, and I realized they’ve fallen a bit short on one of their recent initiatives. About a decade ago, Lexus rolled out a fast, fun, high-performance version of the IS, which was called the IS-F — and Lexus said it was the beginning of a new high-performance brand, "F," which would rival BMW M and Audi "S" and Mercedes-Benz AMG. We were all excited that Lexus was starting to get more fun, and exciting, and sporty.

Well, a decade later, I think we’re all sort of waiting for that to still happen. The IS-F is still regarded as an excellent car, sure, and there have been two more F models: the RC-F high-performance coupe and the GS-F high-performance sedan. But it’s been a decade! BMW has about a dozen "M" cars in its lineup at any given time, and Mercedes-Benz now makes an AMG version of everything. Lexus’s "F" brand was really created just to do high-performance versions of a couple of cars that don’t really sell that well?

Of course, the answer to that is "no" — and Lexus has done more with "F" than that. In fact, Lexus has created "F-Sport" versions of many of its cars, complete with sportier bodywork, sportier grilles and sportier wheels — but no actual performance modifications. There’s an F-Sport version of the RX crossover, the LS luxury sedan and the IS sedan, and others. But there are very few actual "F" cars, with the big engines to match.

All of this got me thinking: is it possible that Lexus created the "F" brand just so they could make these "F Sport" vehicles, rather than the actual high-performance models that enthusiasts want? Did they decide they can’t really compete with BMW M and Mercedes AMG, so they ditched the whole "F" thing and instead decide to make it just a brand of appearance packages and sporty trim?

Obviously, it’s impossible to know, but that seems to be how things are shaking down — and it’s a real disappointment for car enthusiasts who were interested in BMW M performance with Lexus reliability. There are a few F models, sure, but not as many as we were hoping for — and the failure to create a second-generation IS-F says to me that Lexus isn’t as into the whole "F" thing as we hoped. It’s a shame, but I still hold out hope that "F" develops into a more thorough high-performance brand. Find a Lexus for sale

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Enthusiasts(mostly) don’t buy Lexuses. Look how long it took them to sell all of the LFAs. You can’t make a new enthusiast car that’s almost as fast as the competition for roughly the same price and expect to disrupt the market; you need to be faster, cheaper, or both. They learned that when they came out with the LS; it was just as good as their rivals, but less expensive. 

    What you CAN do is make a slow car look fast(er) and sell as many as you can make. 
    • LFA is a tough example because of the price point.  

      I always thought they didn’t make more F cars because the performance usually comes at the cost of reliability…and we all know where Lexus/Toyota will go on that decision.
      I personally (bad back so low cars hurt) would LOVE an NXF with the 5.0 in it.

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More
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