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Lexus weighs up future F models

Keeping on: Lexus is still mulling the future of the IS F but the previous generation version will continue to sell alongside the RC F in Australia, for the time being.

Future Lexus F performance variants still a chance, including GS-based BMW M5 rival

Lexus logo30 May 2014

LEXUS is looking to expand its range of 'F' badged performance models beyond the RC F coupe due later this year, with a hardcore version of the mid-size GS believed to be on the table.

A V8-powered performance flagship of the mid-size rear-drive GS range to take on established players such as the BMW M5, Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG and the Audi S6 has been rumoured for some time even though the Japanese car-maker is yet to confirm development.

US automotive website Car and Driver published images in July last year of what it believed to be a Lexus GS F prototype undergoing testing, but the Toyota-owned car-maker has remained quiet on the subject.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Good Design Awards in Sydney this week, Lexus Australia manager of sales, strategy and PR Adrian Weimers said the development of more F variants, including a potent executive express, would be welcomed by the company.

“Then you have got GS F potentially coming as well too so there is a big question mark around how F evolves and moves and takes on a life of its own,” he said.

“That’s a bit of blue sky at the moment and if it ever does eventuate, that would be wonderful. It would be another part of the puzzle.”

Mr Weimers said future F-badged models as well as the more sedate F Sport variants, are now being factored in during the development stages of some new Lexus models.

“It is now becoming a real part of the product plan, not just F itself but the F Sport. F Sport being more accessible to everybody that is buying into a particular model be it IS, CT, RX even. And then F is just the pinnacle of performance in that particular model line-up.”

The RC F that Lexus uncovered at the Detroit motor show in January this year, will be the first true sports-car for the brand since the debut of the 412kW/480Nm V10-powered LFA supercar in October 2011.

Lexus has experienced mixed results for its sportscars in the past, with the American-centric SC convertible that sold in Australia between 2001 and 2010 never managing to connect with local buyers.

Mr Weimers said the RC F would change people's perception of the Lexus brand in Australia and leverage off the image of the iconic LFA.

“Each model we introduce, that spindle grille and that design its taking on new and different life. And I think with the RC will be even more aggressive. With that comes a really amazing performance package as well,” he said.

“If people hadn’t associated Lexus with performance before, this is the opportunity for them to do so. The LFA plays in such rarefied air, it’s not very accessible, so the RC allows people to get access to it, and the RC F as well.”

Meanwhile, Lexus looks set to continue selling its ageing IS F performance sedan that for the foreseeable future, with a new model based on the third-gen IS still nowhere in sight.

The 311kW/505Nm 5.0-litre V8 IS F launched in Australia in late 2008 and despite the arrival of the third-generation IS mid last year, Lexus is yet to confirm whether will produce another BMW M3 rival in its new guise.

Until that decision is made, the six-year old IS F will soldier on and sell alongside the hardcore RC F coupe that Lexus confirmed this week would sprint into local showrooms either late this year or early next year.

Mr Weimers said the future for the IS F beyond the current model was not yet known.

“The IS F will have a life. We haven’t determined exactly when that stops,” he said. “And then RC F will continue and whether or not there will be an IS F is yet to be determined. It is not clear yet.”

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