Lexus considers additional powertrains for the F Performance brand

A hybrid ‘pure F GT car’ could end reliance on V8s

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
As the European hardcore competition integrates small-displacement engines and hybrids ( Mercedes-AMG), as well as pure electrification ( Polestar), Lexus' F Performance brand sticks to eight-cylinder guns. The IS F, RC F, and GS F all use the same 5.0-liter V8, the brand's hallmark all the way back to the 2007 IS F. Things could be changing, though, to hear Lexus president Yoshihiro Sawa tell it during his first visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. He told Auto Express that "we cannot stick to the one solution when it comes to providing emotion."

It sounds like a hybrid has the best chance of reality in the near-term. In April, Lexus said several powertrain options are "all on the table" for the primary brand, and we know Lexus is working on a more powerful hybrid system. Sawa broached the unexpected idea of "a pure F GT car, which could be a hybrid with an electric motor and a strong engine." Mention of a "pure F GT" has us wondering if Sawa means a version of the rumored LC F, or another vehicle above or beside that LC F. A trademark filing and heaps of rumor posit the LC F will have a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 pushing 600 horsepower or more. It's also possible Lexus plans to do something with the anticipated Gazoo Racing road-going supercar that reworks the hybrid powertrain from Toyota's LMP1 race car.

An electric vehicle is under consideration as the F Performance brand works to "think of our own original way," and Lexus itself tries "to find a way to connect to the next era." Sawa knows performance buyers seek the feel and sound of an ICE, but says "we cannot stick to the one solution when it comes to providing emotion." The subcompact Lexus UX crossover will be half-electrified when it arrives later this year, one of its powertrains putting electric motors on the rear axle. The brand boss said "We will introduce an EV," but whatever they create needs to be both "lovable" and "have a luxury feeling," the former adjective leading us to believe the F sub-brand won't be going down that avenue just yet. The only reasonable candidate we've heard of so far as a battery electric version is the next-generation CT in Europe.

Speaking of the CT, the compact hatchback has brought new buyers to the brand with a 70 to 75 percent conquest rate. Sawa said the spindle grille has done the same; sales have grown since the introduction of the polarizing face, so don't expect it to go away. "[W]hile we know that some potential buyers don't like it," Sawa admitted, "many more are coming into our brand."

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