Toyota is planning to bring their luxury car brand, Lexus into the booming Indian car market. It seems that the brand is vying to rope in customers looking for vehicles in the luxury car segment.
“We are studying, and now more deeply considering bringing Lexus to India,” Hiroshi Nakagawa, MD, Toyota Kirloskar Motors was quoted in The Times of India.
The Indian market for luxury cars is swiftly gaining momentum. The Indian luxury market has grown by 30% per annum which is more than the 13-15% per annum growth witnessed in the entire passenger car segment.
However, it would be a challenging task for Lexus to market its cars in India because the German trio (Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz) have a very strong foothold here.
Lexus’ most intimidating competitor in the India context is Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes has been associated with the Indian luxury car market for a long time and its sales show that India’s obsession with the three-point star is still strong.
A top Toyota official recently said that India is a key focus market for Toyota and the company is looking at ways to increase their footprint as well as product offerings.
Lexus was founded in 1989 and forayed into the market with their first product, the LS 400 sedan powered by V8 engine. Ever since then, Lexus cars have been known for their superior ride quality, handling and performance.
In India Lexus does not have a brand following like BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi had even before they came to the country. Toyota Lexus will have to choose their entry portfolio carefully to take on such entrenched competition, and build a brand presence in India.
In the company’s US product portfolio, there are 15 models across three categories namely sedans, SUVs and Hybrids. Lexus, like BMW’s M segment, has got a performance division which has two models, the IS F and LFA.
Lexus cars are named with the following conventions: S denotes a sedan, and X means a sport/utility vehicle while C indicates that the car is a convertible. The 3-digit number mentioned in the name of the variants is based on the engine size in liters.
The I, E, G and L in the names of the sedans denotes different classes based on the cost and car’s body size, similar to how BMW classifies as 3,5, 7 series and Mercedes-Benz classifies as C-Class, E-Class and S-Class.
Lexus sedans portfolio
In the sedan category, Lexus offers models consisting of the IS, ES, GS, LS and IS C (C- Convertible).
The IS is Lexus equivalent to the BMW 3-series, the ES sits somewhere between the BMW 3 series and 5 series, the GS can be compared with the Audi A6/BMW 5 Series/Mercedes E-Class while the LS can be compared with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class/BMW 7 Series/Audi A8 and the Lexus IS C is somewhat comparable with Mercedes SLK Cabriolet.
Lets take a closer look at each of the eight major cars in the brands portfolio.
Lexus IS (IS – Intelligent Sport Sedan) is the smallest sedan in the company’s international portfolio and competes with the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 series. The IS is available in five variants namely the IS 350 RWD, IS 350 AWD, IS 250 RWD A/T, IS 250 RWD M/T and the IS 250 AWD. Where, RWD means Rear Wheel Drive and AWD means All Wheel Drive.
The Lexus IS 250 RWD M/T is powered by 2.5 litre, V6 petrol engine that produces 204 bhp of maximum power and 250.8 Nm of maximum torque. The 250 RWD takes 7.9 seconds to acceleration from 0 –96.56 kmph, while the top speed of the car is 231.74 km/hr. Expect this variant to return a mileage of 9.35 km/litre.
Lexus IS C
Lexus has only one convertible model in its line-up, the Lexus IS C. The IS C is offered in three variants, IS 350 C, IS 250 C and IS 250 C manual.
The IS 250 C is powered by a 2.5 litre, V6 engine that makes 204 bhp of max power and 250.8 Nm of max torque. The IS 250 C can accelerate from 0 to 96.56 kmph in 8.4 seconds and can achieve a top speed of 215.6 km/hr. Expect the IS 250 C returns a mileage of 9.35 km/litre.
Lexus ES competes with the Mercedes-Benz C Class. The ES is available in only one variant, the ES 350. The ES 350 measures 4,870 mm x 1,820 mm x 1,430 mm (length x width x height) and has a wheelbase of 2,776 mm.
Powered by a 3.5 litre, V6 engine that makes 268 bhp of maximum power and 336 Nm of maximum torque, the ES 350 takes 7.0 seconds to accelerate from 0 – 95.56 kmph and can achieve a top speed of 220.48 km/hr. The engine is mated to a six-speed sequential-shift automatic (Electronically Controlled) Transmission with intelligence (ECT-i). Expect the ES 350 to run 9.35 km for every litre of petrol.
The Lexus GS competes with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The GS has three variants namely, GS 460 RWD, GS 350 AWD and the GS350 RWD.
The GS350 RWD is powered by 3.5 litre, V6 engine that makes 303 bhp of max power and 371 Nm of max torque. The car can accelerate from 0 to 95.56 kmph in 5.7 seconds and can achieve a top speed of 225.30 km/hr. Expect the GS to return a mileage of 9.35 km/litre (22 mpg).
Lexus LS is the biggest sedan from the Toyota’s luxury brand and it competes with BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The LS is offered in four variants, the LS 460 L AWD, the LS 460 L, the LS 460 AWD and LS 460.
The LS 460 is powered by 4.6 litre, V8 engine that belts out 380 hp of maximum power and 497.58 Nm of maximum torque. The LS 460 takes 5.4 seconds to accelerate from 0 –95.56 kmph and can achieve a top speed of 209.21 km/hr. Expect the LS 460 to return a mileage of 8.07 km/litre.
Lexus SUV portfolio
In the SUV category, Lexus has RX, GX and LX, let’s take a look at what these SUVs have to offer.
The Lexus RX is a luxury SUV from the luxury brand and competes with the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz ML Class and Audi Q5 SUVs. Lexus offers the RS in two variants, the RX 350 FWD and the RX 350 AWD.
The RX 350 FWD is powered by a 3.5 litre, V6 engine that makes 275 bhp of max power and 348.44 Nm of max torque. The RX 350 FWD takes 7.5 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 95.56 kmph and reaches a top speed of 180 km/hr. Expect the RX 350 FWD to return a mileage of 8.50 km/litre.
Lexus GX is the next SUV in the company’s product portfolio that takes on Audi Q7 and BMW X5. The GX is offered in two variants, the GX 460 and the GX 460 Premium.
The GX 460 is powered by 4.6 litre, V8 engine that makes 301 bhp of max power and 446 Nm of max torque. The GX 460 takes 7.8 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 95.56 kmph and can achieve a top speed of 177 km/hr. Expect the GX 460 to run 7.22 km per litre of petrol.
Lexus LX is the high-end luxury SUV in the company’s SUV line up and it takes on Mercedes-Benz GL Class and Ranger Rover. Lexus offers the LX in only one variant, the LX 570.
The LX 570 is powered by 5.7 litre, V8 engine that belts out 383 bhp of max power and 546 Nm of max torque. The LX 570 takes 7.4 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 95.56 kmph and can achieve a top speed of 220.48 km/hr. Expect the LX 570 to return a mileage of 5.95 km/litre.
Which of these cars will make their way to India and how well the Indian market will accept Lexus as a brand is something only time (and sales figures) will tell.