Skip advert
Advertisement

Lexus boss hints at electrified F performance models

The next stage in the development of the Lexus F performance brand could be electrification, says president Yoshihiro Sawa

Lexus LC - full front

Lexus may have to consider expanding its F performance sub-brand to include electrified powertrains as well as traditional petrol engines – and this could even extend to a bespoke F hybrid GT, the company’s president has revealed.

Yoshihiro Sawa admits that creating a stronger emotional connection with buyers could be the next step in building Lexus’s position as a true rival to German premium manufacturers. And he says motorsport activities, such as Lexus’s GT3 sports car programme, and its F sub-brand can play key roles in this.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Best performance cars to buy now

The F models to date – IS F, RC F and GS F – have all used petrol V8 power. But Sawa believes the division will have to embrace different powertrain choices in the coming years. And intriguingly, he suggested that one possible home for a hybrid F powertrain could be a standalone F GT.

“F is very important; with F we have to think of our own original way,” said Sawa, speaking during his first visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. “One solution could be a pure F GT car, which could be a hybrid with an electric motor and a strong engine, giving a different kind of drive feel. We don’t stick to V8, V10, twin-turbocharged; they’re important but we’re looking at the future. We’d like to find a way to connect to the next era.” 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

“I think that now, we’re in a transitional period. At this moment people say EVs are trendy but three years later, who knows? People like the sound, the dynamics [of combustion engines]. I think we cannot stick to the one solution when it comes to providing emotion.”

Lexus’s latest creation, the urban-focused UX small SUV, could be considered a more natural candidate for a pure-electric version, Sawa admitted. But he added that this would be part of a range of powertrains, and said that Lexus is trying to work on. “We do think about it,” he said, “but Akio Toyoda [boss of Toyota] wants to provide the freedom of mobility everywhere – not just in the city but also in the jungle, or the desert. We can look to EV but also hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell and normal petrol engines also.”

“We will introduce an EV but on top of that we’re searching to decide which kind of EV will be lovable. It needs to have a luxury feeling too, because that is expected by our customers.”

Sawa said that Lexus’s ‘spindle grille’ front-end styling had helped to create more of an emotional response to the brand – even if that means splitting opinion. “Some people really love the spindle grille,” he said, “and some people don’t like it at all. That’s okay. The rate of our sales growth has gone up since we introduced the spindle grille so while we know that some potential buyers don’t like it, many more are coming into our brand.”

The next generation of Toyota Supra made its dynamic debut at Goodwood, but Sawa declined to say whether Lexus would have enough access to the project – a joint effort between Toyota and BMW – to consider using its underpinnings for a driver-focused model of its own. “I can’t speak about that,” he stated.

Take a look at our round-up of the best electric cars on sale now...

Skip advert
Advertisement
Editor-at-large

John started journalism reporting on motorsport – specifically rallying, which he had followed avidly since he was a boy. After a stint as editor of weekly motorsport bible Autosport, he moved across to testing road cars. He’s now been reviewing cars and writing news stories about them for almost 20 years.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2024: new cars and highlights
Goodwood Festival of Speed 2024 - MG sculpture
News

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2024: new cars and highlights

2024’s Goodwood Festival of Speed was a celebration of over 130 years of engine tech, but it also looked well into the future
17 Jul 2024
Land Rover Defender Octa ride review: up the hill in a ferocious new flagship
Land Rover Defender OCTA - front action
Road tests

Land Rover Defender Octa ride review: up the hill in a ferocious new flagship

The 626bhp Octa sets a mind-boggling performance benchmark for the Defender
15 Jul 2024
New Red Bull RB17 hypercar revealed with a 15,000rpm V10 engine
Red Bull RB17 Goodwood - front
News

New Red Bull RB17 hypercar revealed with a 15,000rpm V10 engine

The RB17 promises F1 levels of performance, while its naturally aspirated V10 revs to an staggering 15,000rpm
12 Jul 2024
New Ford Capri ride review: a first taste of the divisive electric SUV
New Ford Capri - front cornering
Road tests

New Ford Capri ride review: a first taste of the divisive electric SUV

We hitch a ride in Ford's new electric coupe-SUV at the Goodwood Festival of Speed
12 Jul 2024

Most Popular

New EU worn tyre rules could save 400m tyres and £5.9 billion a year
Skoda Octavia heavy braking on a wet road surface
News

New EU worn tyre rules could save 400m tyres and £5.9 billion a year

Tyres at the 1.6mm legal minimum tread depth must still meet same performance standards as new tyres, says the EU
18 Jul 2024
New 2024 Audi A5 is an Audi A4 in all but name
Audi A5 Avant - front action
News

New 2024 Audi A5 is an Audi A4 in all but name

The switch to odd-numbered badging for Audi’s ICE cars sees the A4 become A5, introducing a sleeker shape in the process
16 Jul 2024
It’s a shame Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover or Rolls-Royce aren't good enough for the Prime Minister
Opinion - Bentley
Opinion

It’s a shame Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover or Rolls-Royce aren't good enough for the Prime Minister

Mike Rutherford looks back at a rollercoaster week in the automotive world
14 Jul 2024