Lexus evolves F Sport strategy

Lexus is trying to make it simpler to understand what extra equipment you'll get when you step up to one of its cars with an F on its badge.

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William Stopford
William Stopford
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Future Lexus ‘F’ and ‘F Sport’ branded cars will wear one of four revised designations, the company’s US division has announced. As you climb this F ladder, more changes are made.

  • F Sport Design vehicles will feature only cosmetic changes, such as unique front and rear bumpers, grille and wheels.
  • F Sport Handling vehicles will build on the Design cars with sportier suspension set-ups, such as adaptive suspension.
  • F Sport Performance cars will add a higher performance powertrain.
  • F models will feature extra performance, upgraded brakes, advanced aerodynamics, and use of lightweight materials and components developed for the track.

The news from Lexus follows the recent introduction of the Lexus IS500 F Sport Performance in North America which, despite packing a naturally-aspirated 5.0-litre V8 like the old IS F and the RC F, hasn’t received the full-fat F treatment.

The redesigned Lexus NX and LX will be the first models to receive newly renamed F Sport Handling grades.

Lexus Australia has confirmed the NX will be offered in, among other variants, NX350 F Sport and NX350h F Sport guises when it arrives in January 2022.

In the case of the NX350, the F Sport will be the only trim level available. It’ll use a new 2.4-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine producing 205kW of power at 6000rpm and 430Nm of torque between 1700rpm and 3600rpm, mated to an all-wheel drive system.

Local range details of the 2022 LX have yet to be released. It’s the first generation of LX to offer an F Sport variant, though the outgoing model received an S variant later in its run that had various cosmetic enhancements.

We’ve contacted Lexus Australia to confirm if it’ll be adopting the new F nomenclature.

Both the NX and LX’s sporty variants qualify for F Sport Handling nomenclature by virtue of their adaptive suspension.

By Lexus’ logic, the current F Sport versions of the UX, RX and ES would qualify for F Sport Handling naming as they gain sportier adaptive suspension set-ups over their base Luxury trims.

Likewise, while all LS models feature adaptive suspension, the LS F Sport adds performance hardware like dynamic rear steering, variable gear ratio steering and a high performance brake package.

Lexus’ delineation of the different levels of F suggests we could see more F Sport Design vehicles to battle the likes of Audi’s S line vehicles.

Unfortunately for Lexus Australia, it has no F Sport Performance or F cars to offer.

The IS500 F Sport Performance was engineered for left-hand drive only, and Lexus Australia has had to discontinue the entire IS line anyway due to stricter side-impact regulations.

From November 1, 2021, the CT, IS and RC ranges have all gone off-sale.

That means the brand’s lone F car, the RC F, has also been axed locally. It was the only F car remaining after the GS F was discontinued globally in 2020.

The flagship LC two-door is currently the only Lexus model to not offer a specific F Sport variant in Australia; the North American GX SUV and Chinese LM people movers also lack F Sport variants.

It has yet to be confirmed whether the LC will get an F Sport Performance or F variant at some point.

It’s also unclear what other F cars are in Lexus’ future.

The RC F first launched in 2014, and is therefore in its twilight years.

We’ve contacted Lexus Australia to confirm if it’ll be adopting the new F nomenclature.

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William Stopford
William Stopford
William Stopford is a Journalist at CarExpert.
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