Lexus F Sport Division
Supercar performance and dynamic design trickles down to liven up the brand's everyday drivers
Lexus as a brand has come a long way in recent years. The bland forms and semi-luxe sedans of its adolescence have been left behind in favor of a wholly new, considerably sexier identity as the Toyota-owned brand approaches the quarter century mark. To add a boost of performance to the line up of already redesigned cars, Lexus is now offering six 2014 models in a factory-tuned F Sport edition. From the entirely redesigned IS sedan and coupe, to the CT hybrid hatchback, each vehicle benefits from factory-installed chassis, specially calibrated suspension for sharper handling, a more aggressive exterior and sport-inspired interior—all of which can be traced back to the brand's top tier LFA supercar (released in 2010) and IS F Sport (released in 2011).
"We've really rethought the brand," explained Lexus Corporate Marketing Manager Brian Bolain. "[Lexus'] products have been in development for a lot longer but what's been visible to a consumer has been about two years. And it's really culminating now; at the end of this year we will have pretty much revamped every product in the line-up, so it's worth a second look." While we've had the opportunity to test both the LFA and IS F Sport on the track in the past, Lexus' newly updated F Sport edition remained unknown. To remedy this, we recently spent a day with Lexus and the F Sport range at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, navigating both a secure road course and the track at top speeds.
"All the learning that went into LFA and IS F is now trickling down into the rest of the Lexus products, it just takes time," said Bolain. The F Sport models—which Bolain describes as "F Light"—take many visual and performance cues from their bigger stand-alone F models. And while it'd be easy to slap a spiffy F here and there, and tune the intake to sound more aggressive, Lexus looks to have gone a step further, improving suspension on each model and entirely redesigning the 2014 IS 350 and 250 models. "A really important part of handling for a car is the rigidity of the platform and of the body, so you'll find in all of our newest products there's a lot more high tensile strength steel and a lot more spot welding. That's really why the cars are so much better, fundamentally, it is improved." With this in mind, it was no surprise the IS 350 AWD was a favorite amongst the participating drivers.
While the imposing grille, impressive traction and sheer aggressiveness of the IS 350 was obviously appealing, the introduction of the F Sport package can be summed up with the "dog" of the bunch—the CT 200h hybrid compact. "People want a higher degree of engagement, and I think there's a lot of people that like a bit of utility too," explains Bolain. "I think the CT is a really good combination because you get 42 mpg—and I can look you in the eye and tell you you really get it—and it's a hatchback. Adding the F Sport, that car has a fairly sophisticated platform, in terms of its handling, good rear suspension, and being extremely responsive and flat in corners. If you're living in LA, SF, Chicago or NY it's kind of the right size of car. So I think that car checks a lot of boxes."
The F Sport performance package will be available as an upgrade—for between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on model—on the CT 200h hatchback, IS 250/350 sport sedan, IS 250/350C hardtop convertible, GS 350 luxury sedan, LS 460 flagship luxury sedan and RX 350 luxury utility vehicle. Additionally, Lexus is offering a range of individual performance and appearance upgrades for select, previously owned models. For more examples of F Sport design continuity across multiple models see the slideshow. And to read up on the specific stats for each model and the F Sport options visit Lexus online.
Images by Graham Hiemstra