Luxurious, sumptuous, comfortable, precise, high-quality. All are words used to describe Lexus cars. But "fun" and "sporty" aren't usually in the mix, and for good reason. For all their qualities, the company hasn't ever really hit its performance stride.
Or has it? Lexus promises to showcase its performance edge at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, with numerous modified vehicles as well as its excellent LFA supercar. Among the modified vehicles will be a version of the company's new CT 200h modified by tuner Five Axis with big StopTech brakes, 19-inch FIVE:AD forged wheels, a Tien coil-over suspension and other goodies, all slathered in a dark-green paint. There will also be a modified RX 450h and even a tuned LS 600h L.
Okay, that's all fine and good, but here's the thing: hybrids aren't sporty. Lexus has tried as hard as any other company, but the CT 200h "sport hybrid" is at best nifty, not really the stuff of dreams. Even the LS 600h L, a powerful and luxurious premium luxury sedan, isn't exactly a performance icon.
On the other hand, the IS-F is pretty awesome, and it goes without saying that the LFA is amazing. And what do those two cars have in common? Both follow a more traditional route to performance: lots of power, tight handling, and a blatant disregard for fuel consumption.
There's no doubt that Lexus gets high marks for trying to make hybrids cool, and to certain groups of people they are. But until Lexus comes up with a hybrid that sets a new Nuerburgring time, or one that runs circles around a Cadillac CTS-V or BMW M5, the words "hybrid" and "performance" will remain oxymorons.