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Lexus reaches out to new audience

Coupe allure: Lexus Australia boss Sean Hanley says younger car buyers want looks and pace, and its new RC 350 delivers both.

Styling, performance and a possible V8 Supercar the way to new buyers says Lexus

26 Nov 2014

LEXUS is hunting for a new broader customer base with a focus on sportier and more stylish future models to attract a younger, performance-hungry audience.

Over the course of its 25 year history, the Toyota-owned brand has become synonymous with luxury and comfort, but to branch out into new territory, the company is pushing further into the sports luxury market.

The drive into high-performance cars started with the V8 IS F sedan in 2008 and grew in 2010 when the V10-powered 325km/h LFA arrived.

Now Lexus has landed a far more accessible coupe – the RC 350 – costing about $634,000 less than the LFA.

Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley told GoAuto the bid for a new younger customer was a priority but would not come at the cost of longstanding existing customers.

“We have a very traditional customer base and they are very loyal,” he said.

“The last thing we want to do is alienate that existing customer base, but at the same time we understand to grow the business we have to attract new people to our brand.

“This car is a bold new design from Luxury through to Sports Luxury and that three-grade strategy is designed to do two things: accommodate our existing buyers who love Lexus and through the bold new design and the F Sport, attract new customers.

“It will attract a younger buyer to Lexus.”

A V8-powered version of the RC is also on its way, along with more models beyond the RC range.

Mr Hanley said the brand's reputation for comfort and customer confidence has been strongly established but now is the time to pursue more exciting vehicles.

“Quality, luxury, good specification, great customer service – we do that. Now we've got to bring in product that excites,” he said.

“LFA signaled to the world that Lexus is entering a whole new design space. I think we can now go to the next level and for us that is great design, great performance without forgetting how we were established.”

In addition to more youth-attracting sports models, Lexus might also join an increasing number of non-Australian manufacturers in the V8 Supercar racing series to boost its profile and performance-car connection.

Mr Hanley said the company was considering a move in to racing now that it had an eligible car and that a Lexus race car would bring excitement to the brand.

“On one hand, the Lexus brand doesn't offend,” he said. “At the other extreme end, it doesn't necessarily excite – it's in the middle and a safe brand“Excitement can only come from two areas: great design and great performance, and it’s the performance part of the equation where Supercar V8 racing has some association we're thinking for the future.

“LFA was not a car we could have used but now we are hearing about a few eligibility changes and we have an RC F coming with a V8 and suddenly we have a car you could race on Sunday that would be in the showroom on Monday.

“If you want to showcase a car in motorsport, you've also got to have a car of the same design to sell and we have that opportunity now.”

At the Geneva motor show earlier this year, Lexus unveiled a hardcore GT3 racing concept version of the RC coupe, which could herald the look of a future V8 Supercar entrant if the company makes the jump in to Australian motor sport.

The Lexus RC 350 is on sale now priced from $66,000 before on-road costs with the top performing RC F arriving on Australian soil early next year.

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