Lexus set the motoring world on fire with the LFA in early 2010, but the company hasn’t had a high-performance car since its limited run ended. But, the new range-topping performance car may still be around the corner.
Last year, rumors surfaced that Lexus was planning to bring its F badge back to the fore with a high-performance LC500 Grand Tourer. Those plans collapsed in the feasibility study process, but Lexus still had ground-breaking performance plans. We spoke with Jeffrey Ball, Lexus Motorsports Director at the Long Beach Grand Prix last weekend to hear more about what the store has in store.
“The LC is a touring car, it’s perfect balance, 50/50 weight distribution,” Ball said. “There are rumors that there is a design and study for LC F… They’ve looked into it and this is not a feasible study for us.”
The rumors he’s referring to have claimed that the LC F will be powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 producing around 660 horsepower. Ultimately, whether it was due to the performance of what would be a somewhat heavy end product or simply the costs associated with developing a high-performance touring vehicle, the project was shelved. Instead, the next generation of Lexus performance will go in another direction.
While Lexus intends to take its high-performance car to GT3 racing, Ball said the Toyota GR GT3 concept revealed at the Tokyo Auto Salon offers a hint of what could be on the way.
“Tokyo Salon Concept. We’re on the right track in development and really excited, but we’re not yet at a point where we can share a lot of details. The car you’ve seen is absolutely amazing, and what we’re seeing is going to be close.”
Will that be a true successor to the LFA? While Bal did not indicate exactly where the car would land in the performance spectrum, he did give us an idea of what to expect:
I think the industry, enthusiasts, current owners, everyone is asking what’s next. We had this amazing car that we built 500 of by hand, unicorn among all the other exotics. There is something we must have as a successor. By the same token, IS F and GS F owners who know there is nothing currently planned as a successor to these, there is a gap between the LFA, IS, GS and RC F platforms that these cars can take up space in.
When asked if this would look like the Mercedes-AMG GT, a custom performance car paired directly with the SL Grand Touring in much the same way this new Lexus would be paired with the current LC500, Ball indicated we might be on the right track:
“there is something [in the works] closer to [the AMG GT] I described it and it might fall into that while we study it more closely, but we are not ready to announce anything yet.”
Regardless of what Lexus’ upcoming performance product actually is, Lexus is expected to continue its GT3 racing take in IMSA’s new GTD Pro class, which allows factory teams with all professional lineups to use cars initially designed to race customers. The current RC F program has won races since 2018 and the current factory team Vasser Sullivan won the sprint championship with the car in 2018. Bal hopes the new car will debut in 2024, just in time for Ford’s Factory Mustang program’s upcoming race. Right now, Lexus Wasser Sullivan is racing against cars from BMW, Porsche, Corvette, Acura, Mercedes and Lamborghini in the GTD Pro.
Bal also stresses that Lexus is looking for ways to inject performance into other elements of its lineup. While that might not mean a return to a mid-size M5 competitor like the GS F anytime soon, it could mean more thought about performance on existing cars. If that means more cars like the IS500 that debuted last year, that would be a very good thing.
Unfortunately, a failed feasibility study and a custom performance product planned in place means we won’t see the LC F. However, since this study has been commissioned, there is an opportunity to build an LC F prototype. If so, Lexus could have something like The original BMW M8 is up its sleeves, a completely original performance variant of the GT waiting to be shared decades after its hopes of reaching production died.
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