Lexus CT200h facelift (first half)
Bringing the premium hybrid hatchback into line with the luxury Japanese car maker’s ‘L-Finesse’-styled line-up, the facelifted Lexus CT200h arrives locally in the first half of 2014 spruiking improved dynamics, comfort and driveability. Obvious changes to the exterior include Lexus’ signature spindle grille, revised front and rear bumpers, mildly updated headlights and tail-lights, a new shark fin-style roof-mounted antenna and new 16- and 17-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels. Less apparent but no less significant is the 1.8-litre four-cylinder-based hybrid’s increased body rigidity, revised suspension for both standard and F Sport variants, enhanced aerodynamics and claimed NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) refinements. The refreshed cabin features a new Lexus IS-style steering wheel, a 4.2-inch instrument cluster screen and Lexus’ latest-generation infotainment system. Still yet to be confirmed, the new CT200h is expected to deliver improved fuel consumption and performance figures while also dropping below the existing model’s $39,990 list price.
Lexus RC (late 2014)
Designed to challenge the likes of the Audi A5 coupe, BMW 4 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe, the Lexus RC coupe is scheduled to arrive on local shores in late 2014 following its fourth-quarter Japanese launch. An RC350 and RC300h are expected to introduce the new range, with power coming from two sources: an uprated version of the IS350’s 3.5-litre V6 petrol producing 234kW and 380Nm, and a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol-based hybrid unit borrowed from the IS300h with a total system output of 164kW. The V6 will be teamed to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the hybrid a continuously variable transmission. Both will be offered exclusively in rear-wheel drive. The line-up is anticipated to expand at a later date to include both an entry-level RC250 – possibly powered by the brand’s first-ever turbocharged engine – and a V8-powered RC F performance flagship. Expect a mid-$60K starting price for the initial entry-level RC300h.
Lexus GS F
Planned to tackle Germany’s heaviest hitters, the BMW M5, Audi RS6 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG, the Lexus GS F is tipped to break cover in full production trim early in 2014. Set to be unveiled at either the Detroit auto show in January or at Geneva in March, the GS performance flagship was spied repeatedly in 2013 – including at Germany’s Nurburgring – in developmental prototype guise. Expected to feature an upgraded version of the Lexus IS F’s 311kW/505Nm 5.0-litre V8, speculation suggests the GS F will have closer to 350kW – a marked improvement, though leaving the Japanese super sedan some 62kW-80kW short of its German rivals if accurate. The Lexus GS F will also feature aggressive aero treatments, upgraded brakes, a stacked quad-pipe exhaust system and obligatory ‘F’ badging.
Powered by the premium Japanese car maker’s first-ever turbocharged engine, the production version of the Lexus LF-NX concept is slated to make its debut in 2014 before reaching showrooms the following year to rival the likes of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3.. First seen at September’s Frankfurt motor show and then again mildly revised two months later at Tokyo, the mid-sized SUV is tipped to debut the NX200t badge once it reaches production, with power coming from a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. With engine details still to be revealed, speculation suggests similar power to the 153kW/252Nm 2.5-litre V6 unit in the IS250, albeit with improved efficiency. An NX300h hybrid is also expected in the new SUV range. The Lexus NX is tipped to debut in production guise either early in 2014 at March’s Geneva motor show or later in the year at Paris in September.