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Lexus plans more F models, but not SUVs

By Alex Inwood, 01 Sep 2014 News

Lexus plans more F models, but not SUVs

Further hard-core models in the pipeline as Lexus tries to put F ahead of M and AMG

LEXUS plans to expand its hard-core F model line-up to further take on the iconic performance arms of its German rivals.

Speaking in New York at the launch of the RC F, the brand’s new performance hero, F brand chief Yukuhiro Yaguchi said he sees real potential for growth.

“We definitely would like to see F models grow with various models within the line-up,” he said.

“We don’t reveal future product plans, but at this point the next logical F car will be the new generation IS F at this point. What we have is the RC F, which is a coupe, so do we need an IS F or do we need to expand more in other areas?”

The news was welcomed by Lexus Australia box Sean Hanley, who told Wheels any new F brand models – which stands for Fuji Speedway, where Lexus tests its hardest and fastest models – would sell well in Australia.

“I think there’s a significant opportunity for Lexus to expand on the F brand and the F Sport brand,” he said. “We see an opportunity in Australia and I’ll tell you now, if we have any F Sport models made available to us, we’ll take them straight away.”

Hanley said the F brand is already a proven entity Down Under.

“Our sales mix for F Sport is going through the roof,” he said. “It’s clearly since we switched to this new design, the big spindle grille. And the harder F models have a big following, too.”

Like BMW and Mercedes, Lexus offers a less hard-edged pack (F Sport) across most of its range, which sits below fully blown track-focused F brand models.

Yet, despite the brand’s increasing popularity, Lexus has resolutely refused to build a high-performance SUV to rival the Audi RSQ3 or the bigger BMW X5M.

“No, not at all,” Yaguchi said. “To have an F badge, a car needs to have a characteristic to run on the race track, therefore it doesn’t really have it to have an SUV as an F model. We might have F sport models in the SUVs, but as far as a full F model, no.”

Don’t expect an F version of the little Lexus CT, either, with Yaguchi saying any future F brand models won’t be smaller than an IS.

“I’m not interested in doing anything with a front-wheel-drive platform, or anything below a V8 at this time.”

While a new-generation IS F is most likely to be the next F brand car, there’s also talk of a GS F, possibly with a twin-turbo version of the 5.0-litre V8 used in the RC F and IS F.

“We have no plans at this time, but it is possible to turbocharge that engine, yes.”