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Lexus Wants To Make Its Cars More Fun To Drive

Interview / 25 Comments

Driving dynamics will be high on the priority list.

We recently had a chance to drive the 2020 Lexus RC F Track Edition in its natural habitat, a race track. With more than 170 pounds taken out of the car and various other fine tuning adjustments, the Track Edition feels like a substantial improvement over the standard car. We had a chance to sit down with David Christ, Vice President and General Manager of Lexus to talk about the RC F Track Edition and how the luxury automaker plans to continue its performance strategy.

Previous reports indicated Lexus already has plans to introduce more Track Edition models beyond the 2020 RC F but the reality may not be so concrete. Christ explained: "We haven't had a lot of sales history yet. So we have to see how it's received and go from there. But more broadly, I think we're working on improving the performance of all of our products. And whether it's a unique Track Edition strategy or it's an overall brand improvement in performance. Both are areas that we're looking at."

We asked Christ to elaborate on what it would look like if Lexus made improvements in performance across its entire lineup, particularly in regards to sportier models from the F Sport and F lineups. "We do consumer research all of the time," Christ said. "The consumers, particularly in the coupe and sedan area, say being fun-to-drive and driving dynamics are important purchase reasons. I wouldn't say there's any one specific area that is the single focus but I think we're looking across the lineup trying to develop or improve our performance strategy. The RC and RC F changes that have just come through are an example of us fine-tuning our performance chops so to speak."

Lexus has promised to continue to produce its 5.0-liter V8 for as long as possible. "We all love that engine and you all love it," Christ conveyed. "When you look into engines and drivetrains it gets into local regulations, global regulations, cafe greenhouse gas requirements, there's a lot of factors that influence what engines we can produce. If we can make it work with all of the regulations around it, then we'll keep going with it."

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Following up on an earlier report that a high-performance variant of the LC called the LC F was imminent, Christ said "I have no idea what he's talking about," in reference to statements made by Moe Durand, Lexus International Strategic Communications Senior Manager, on "something big" coming to LC later this year. Lexus may be ready to cheekily tease us with its new high-performance grand tourer but it certainly isn't ready to confirm anything. Christ did tell us that the brand remains open to powertrains for future performance cars.

"We are trying to develop our powertrain strategy so we are placing bets on all technologies. We're focused on hybrids, we're working on an EV plan, obviously, the internal combustion engine is going to be around for a while. So we have development in all of those areas. And with LC specifically, we have what we have today, and then I think we're still working on what that will look like going forward. We're just not prepared to announce anything else."

As for an expansion of the F brand, we asked Christ if we might see the F badge placed on a performance SUV in the near future. So many other brands are developing high-performance SUVs, it would make sense for Lexus to compete. "Our performance strategy on F has been on the car side of our lineup. It's been coupes and sedans," Christ explained. "I think it's feasible that they could branch over into the SUV side of the lineup, but we don't have any immediate plans to do."

So for all of you enthusiasts out there who hate seeing sedans and coupe die off in favor of SUVs, it looks like Lexus still believes cars are the way to go for performance models.

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