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Lexus New Model Roadmap


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As a marketing person and Lexus fan, I have been doing a bit of research about forthcoming Lexus models. These predictions are based on genuine conversations with people at Lexus HQ in Brussels, motoring journalists in the UK and other industry sources:

1. IS saloon

We won't get the IS350 in Europe, but we will get a super-saloon IS460/ IS500 with the new 4.6 litre V8. Good for at least 400 bhp, it will certainly give the M3 and RS4 something to think about. If the IS continues to sell as well as it is - with orders well ahead of previous model's launch trajectory - who knows, maybe we WILL get IS 350 as well.

2. IS coupe

Yes. This is definitely coming and should be available by Q3 2007. They have tested a hard top and a hard/top convertible (like Mercedes-Benz SL). No one knows whether both will make production.

(I don't know, but DESPITE RUMOURS TO THE CONTRARY, I strongly suspect that we will see a WAGON VERSION of the new IS. Unlike previous fastback estate IS, new one will be a proper estate car. Nevertheless, it will be extremely handsome. I just hope that it will have more rear passenger space.)

3. GS saloon

For 2007 model year, the engine from the IS350 will go into the GS350 model and give it a welcome power boost. It also gets latest SatNav from IS. There is even talk of an entry level model with the 2.5 litre engine. The GS450h has already been presented. New 4.6 litre engine will be added to this model subsequently.

4. LS saloon

New LS series arrives in time for next Christmas. Was previewed at Tokyo in the LS-Sh concept. Real thing will arrive at the Detroit show in January and in Europe at Geneva show. Brand new 4.6 litre engine will give standard version more than enough zip. This will be an IS on steroids and feature every electronic gizmo you can imagine - including a feature that detects how alert the driver is by watching her/ him with a camera.

5. LF-A Supercar

This has definitely been slated for production. Will replace SC430. Surprsingly, it will have a V-10 not a V-8. I say surprisingly, because it was orginally designed to showcase Toyota's Formula One technology and F1 is moving to a V-8 engine configuration. Whatever, this car will be stunning in every department and should certainly pee on Porsche's firework! Will be presented in production form in 2006 and is expected to debut in 2007.

6. Brand new Hatchback

Lexus is working on a top secret hatchback to slot in below the IS. Designed to compete with the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series, it is expected to be front wheel drive to maximise packaging effciencies. Like the IS, it will have class leading luxury interior. Will be presented in 2007 and is expected to debut in 2008.

7. RX replacement

Work has already begun on the RX replacement model. Very similar in style and execution to the current model, the new one will be less of a soft-roader with serious off-road capabilities, thanks to some very clever and light Japanese engineering technology. Expected to offer a slightly larger cargo area behind the rear seats, it will be able to seat seven. Overall size should not be much bigger than current RX, middle row of seats slides to afford greater legroom to rear passengers. Will be presented in 2008 and is expected to debut 2009.

_________________

New engines

An all aluminium 3.0+ litre V-6 diesel has been discussed but it isn't known whether it will make production. Mated to a hybrid drive, such a car could offer even greater economy than current hybrid models. Let's hope it does.

The engine line-up for Europe should look like this:

2.2 litre L4 diesel: IS

2.5 litre V6 petrol: IS, GS

2.5 litre V6 petrol/ electric electric: IS

3.2 litre V6 diesel: IS, GS*

3.5 litre V6 petrol: GS, RX, LS

3.5 litre V6 petrol/ electric hybrid: GS, RX

4.6 litre V8 petrol: IS, GS, LS,

4.6 litre V8 petrol. electric hybrid: LS

5.6 litre V10: LF-A and possibly hyper-saloon version of LS

* = wild guess

(It isn't known what engines will go in new hatchback, but they are likely to be existing Toyota units)

In summary, I can't say that this list is 100% accurate, but directionally it is right on the mark. Anyone who can confirm or refute any of these details, your comments are welcome.

What I can say for sure about Lexus' strategy is that while it won't derail Mercedes or BMW, at least in the short-term, it is designed to put a HUGE dent in Audi:

> New hatchback will leverage Toyota's burgeoning small car credentials to offer quality and value to make the Audi A3 look expensive and pathetic.

> Next A4 is front wheel drive so new IS already outscores it dynamically

> LF-A supercar will be in a performance league above Audi R8 yet in a price category below it. Audi is stupidly scared of cannibalising Lamborghini sales.

> New LS will be in a league above the S-Class let alone the A8.

> New Audi Q7 is way too big, high and wide. New RX will kill it if the present one doesn't.

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Tailpipe,

If Lexus are serious then they will have to push what you have outlined. I'm just disappointed that Lexus don't offer some sort of roadmap up front to their customers - although they have given heavy hints that they'll offer more variants on engine type, body type a la BMW.

As an indication of the task ahead for Lexus I read that the BMW X3 (which is another dog, even the UK press said it was cheap quality) sold 7000 in the UK and 34000 in Europe - 1 model in the Munich range outsells all of Lexus.

Off topic, see that Lexus can (sort of) break the magic 100bhp/ litre

2.5 IS = 204 bhp

3.5 IS = 306 bhp

1 litre = 102 bhp !

Why is the IS250 output so low in the UK (215 bhp in Japan)? I'll be gutted (and angry) if Lexus announce IS350 for the UK after I buy the 250.

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Tailpipe,

If Lexus are serious then they will have to push what you have outlined. I'm just disappointed that Lexus don't offer some sort of roadmap up front to their customers - although they have given heavy hints that they'll offer more variants on engine type, body type a la BMW.

Autobeach,

You are so right. I think Lexus Europe is very weak at marketing. They have consistently failed to communicate effectively with their customers. The brand lacks any kind of emotional appeal. And the reason is simple: traditionally, Japanese car brands have always attracted the second division of car industry marketing people. But I think this is beginning to change dramatically at Toyota. People like Stuart McCullogh have really got a grip of Lexus since they arrived there. Lexus has already travelled far, but my goodness, do they have a way to go.

Of course thee are somethings that Lexus has already got very right. Do I need to elaborate on their dealer service, value, residual value, and levels of standard equipment?

I don't think Lexus ever aspires to equal BMW on volume, just quality. This must be a good thing. I don't think you can produce as many cars as BMW does and maintain quality. I am a former BMW owner about to migrate to Lexus, (my IS 250 arrives in March). My ownership expereince with BMW dramatically affected my opinion of the brand: 320i E30 was beautifully built and reliable as as a cuckoo clock, even if the back-end slid all over the place in the wet. My M3 E46 went like it was on rails, but was full of cheap plastic, broke down several times and literally fell apart after 3 years.

So I don't want Lexus to become a BMW. Lexus has got that right, but they do have to start building seriously desirable motor cars. The new IS is the first model to fulfill this criteria in my book; especially the coupe version. The new LS should also be fantastic. The LF-A should be even better.

Right now, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are trying to fill every niche there is. Just like BMW. The result is the occasional dog, like the X3. Have more than two models in your line-up that bomb on the forecourt and you run into big problems. My prediction is that sooner or later one of BMW, Volkswagen/ Audi, Mercedes-Benz or Porsche will hit the buffers. They're too focused on fighting each other instead of on the the threat from the East. Lexus just needs to maintain its focus - do a few things, but do them exceptionally well - and add a few more engine options.

I just hope the people at Lexus realise that thanks to the Internet, and forums like this one, customers are better informed than we've ever been. We don't want to be marketed to. We want to be treated like ordinary human beings.

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You are so right. I think Lexus Europe is very weak at marketing.

Lexus' biggest European market is the UK. Having lived on the continent for four years fairly recently, Lexus vehicles were VERY rare to be seen anywhere in mainstream Europe.. even the likes of the IS200. BMW and Mercedes has/had a much superior market share than Lexus...

That was actually one of the reasons that I bought Lexus in the beginning anyway... it was EXCLUSIVE.. rather than "oh just another Mercedes" or "just another BMW". (Obiviously there wer other reasons, because I was actually considerign the BMW and the Mercedes at the time.. the Lexus won on several other points).

Leland

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6. Brand new Hatchback

Lexus is working on a top secret hatchback to slot in below the IS. Designed to compete with the Audi A3 and BMW 1-Series, it is expected to be front wheel drive to maximise packaging effciencies. Like the IS, it will have class leading luxury interior. Will be presented in 2007 and is expected to debut in 2008.

Yes :)

That's my boy !

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Very interesting post, most of it does look like a clear indication of where Lexus is going over the next few years.  Personally I am waiting for the new IS coupe/convertible  :driving:

Dito! :D

Everyone seems to agree that the IS is the key model to drive growth for Lexus in Europe. But one body style and two engines are probably not enough to achieve Lexus' goals. So I hope they will introduce additional engines. A 1.8 petrol engine and a 1.8 diesel engine would be appreciated at the lower end of the spectrum. But maybe there is room for the IS350 (with both a manual and auto transmission) plus a range topping super-saloon with a V-8. I'd also like to see the AWD model made available over here.

Even a range of six engines and two transmission types isn't enough. Alternative body styles will also be needed. While the coupe/ cabriloet seems to be on the agenda, I think Lexus also needs to offer an estate. At the moment, the only Lexus load-lugger is the RX300/ 400h. Therefore, a Sportcross model with significantly more space than the old version had would be popular.

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