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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