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Toyota plans to answer German performance

On the way: The Lexus IS350 is on the cards for Oz.

Lexus plans hot range to tackle AMG and M series

6 Dec 2006

A STONKING V8-powered IS sedan will mark the Toyota luxury division's opening challenge to the likes of BMW's M and Mercedes-Benz's AMG high-performance brands from 2008.

Officially named IS-F but also known as the IS500, the high-performance version of the IS250 launched here in November 2005 should be powered by either a version of the LS600hL hybrid's 317kW 5.0-litre V8 or the LS460's 280kW/500Nm 4.6-litre V8 – mated to the new Lexus flagship’s world-first eight-speed auto.

Although Lexus will finally introduce its redesigned LS460 in June, a month before the long-wheelbase LS600hL hybrid arrives here, the M3 and C63 AMG-rivalling IS-F is expected to debut at the Detroit motor show in January.

It will feature cylinder-head tuning by Yamaha, braking hardware from Brembo and, possibly, the option of the all-wheel drive system already available for IS overseas. A hybrid version is also part of the IS-F plan.

Expect hi-po F versions of the GS sedan and IS coupe-convertible, which should appear by 2009, to follow. Like the IS500, expect availability to be strictly limited and for pricing to undercut direct rivals from BMW and Benz.

The 2008 Detroit show host the debut of a redesigned LX luxury SUV flagship, based on the all-new 200-Series LandCruiser but offering greater differentiation than the current LX470 does. It's due here by February 2008, powered by a bigger new V8.

The 228kW/375Nm 3.5-litre V6 IS350 and 130kW/200Nm turbo-diesel IS220d will not appear here next year, but could emerge in 2008.

Further afield, Lexus will rollout a production version of its LF-A supercar concept, plus an IS-based compact SUV to slot beneath the RX350.

What's coming from Lexus:
LS460 SWB sedan June 2007
LS600hL LWB sedan July 2007
LX SUV redesign Feb 2008
IS-F sedan 2008
IS350 sedan 2008
IS220d sedan 2008
IS coupe-cabrio 2009
LF-A coupe 2009
Compact SUV 2010
Export record for Toyota
TOYOTA Australia will export a record 80,000 vehicles this year – representing no less than 65 per cent of its Altona plant production - but that number will swell further in 2007 following the Middle East launch of the left-hand drive Aurion last week.

Middle East nations represent the lion's share of TMCA's Camry exports, which are currently shipped to about 20 markets.

Increased Aurion and Camry shipments next year could see as many as 84,000 vehicles exported by TMCA in 2007, including about 60,000 Camrys and 24,000 Aurions.

Both those numbers will be well up on domestic sales, with Camry forecast to average 3000 sales a month (for an annual total of 36,000) and Aurion finding 1543 new homes in November - its first full month on sale.

At that rate, annual Aurion sales should exceed 18,000 in Australia, bringing total domestic sales of Toyota’s locally-built models to 54,000.

For the forseeable future, it seems most of Altona's production capacity (up to 140,000 vehicles a year) will continue to be shipped elsewhere.

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