Now that Lexus has finally established itself as of the major leading luxury brands, there was always one thing missing, a performance division. To join the elite group of manufacturers who dare do both luxury and ultra performance, Lexus needed its own performance group to tune its own cars. Much the like M division for BMW, the AMG division of Mercedes and the RS series from Audi, (and STi for Subaru and RalliArt for Mitsubishi), the need for an "ultimate" version of each model car is essential to the success of the lower models.
So Lexus has finally decided that its time, its time to go Fast. With that in mind, Lexus has introduced the F series. So for example the F series of the IS range will be called IS-F. Infact the IS-F is Lexus' first adventure into the performance market, the IS-F is powered by the LS460's 4.6-litre V8, the current estimated output is around 425 horsepower (317kW of power). Some reports also suggest the option of an 8-speed automatic gearbox (perhaps one taken out of the LS460?), plus of course the 6-speed manual shifter.
Once the market has been tested with the IS-F, Lexus is expected to follow suit with similar models from its other series including a GS-F (from the GS series) and the LS-F (from the LS series), there may even be a possibility of a RX-F down the line, but the more intriguing thing about this whole F series, is whether or not it will actually compete against the likes of BMW's M series and Audi's RS series, and not to mention the ultimate king of racing cars, Porsche's 911.
We will have to wait tio find out as the IS-F is expected to go on sale in northern December time next year, however we will catch an early glimpse of the 2008 model IS-F as it makes it's debut at the 2007 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and it's major rivals will include other small V8 sport sedans such as the upcoming M3 from BMW, and the RS 4 from Audi.
Obviously with all performance divisions, the engine isn't all that you get, body kits, bigger wheels, brakes and a heap of gizmos and performance bits are all to be included with the IS-F package. But the question remains, just because you can add a 425 bhp engine to a car with bigger brakes and bigger wheels doesn't it necessarily give it any right to call itself a performance car.
However since Lexus have simply taken no wrong steps in the last few years, it would be very interesting to see how the Japanese manufacturer will take on the likes of BMW/Mercedes for the ultra high luxury performance car market. There is also word that Lexus will add a new IS Convertible in late 2008, I don't know if its just my imagination but it seems lke perhaps Lexus has just hire a few former BMW executives and is putting the IS series through the exact same lifecycle that the BMW 3 series has gone through!