Lexus is set to rev up its image in 2007 by setting up a performance off-shoot division modelled on BMW’s revered M-division and Mercedes-Benz’s AMG skunk works. To be made official at the Detroit motor show in January, it plans to turn out performance-orientated versions of each Lexus model, including its hybrid offerings.
The new performance department's centre piece will be a production version of the Japanese car-maker’s swoopy LS-F concept car due to be unveiled at next year’s Tokyo motor show. Lexus has already filed a trademarked for a stylised “F” logo to be used on its new models – the F apparently standing for Fast. First cab off the rank for the new Lexus off-shoot will be a heavily-reworked version of the IS saloon (see scoop shot, right) aimed directly at the new BMW M3 and upcoming Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. To be badged IS-F, it is rumoured to run a 425bhp version of the 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine used in the LS600h hybrid developed in partnership with Yamaha, which supplies new cylinders and other lightweight internals.
Also in the pipeline, according to insiders from Lexus parent company Toyota, is a heavily tweaked GS with up to 500bhp from the same engine.