Lexus has defied the early naysayers to become one of the world’s leading luxury brands. Motoring journalist Rob Griffin picks out six of the best.
When Toyota announced back in the 1980s that it was launching a luxury vehicle, it’s fair to say that the news was treated with a degree of scepticism.
However, cynics have been largely proved wrong, as the brand has been responsible for some fantastic machines.
Despite there being a relatively limited number of cars to choose from, there have still been a good number of impressive or innovative vehicles that have borne the Lexus badge.
Lexus LS 400
It’s hard to believe that 25 years have passed since the LS 400 made its debut. Having spent five years in development, it was seen as a decent rival to the well-established luxury car marques that were dominating the market.
The impact it made was instant with reviewers praising the ride, handling and comfort. Top Gear’s Chris Goffey, for instance, described it as "petrifyingly good" and "amazing value for money" after taking it for a road test.
Lexus GS 450h
Remember when so-called green cars were viewed as sluggish and dull? Well, if any of those perceptions still exist then cars like the Lexus GS 450h will certainly challenge them.
Not only is it stylish, but its eco-credentials are also up to date. Performance comes from what is known as the Lexus Hybrid Drive.
This consists of a 3.5 litre V6 direct-injection petrol engine combined with a high-output electric motor. The end result is 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, with prices upwards of £45,000.
Confirmation may have only recently filtered through that the IS-F has reached the end of its production run, but it can certainly lay claim to having been one of the more impressive machines to have carried the Lexus badge.
It was branded a "brilliant car" by Top Gear, which insisted it was the best-handling Lexus ever made and deserved its place among the super saloons.
Its arrival also helped change the perception of Lexus from being a provider of executive rather than sporty machines.
In its broadest terms, this is the replacement for the IS-F. While retaining the instantly recognisable tough styling, the RCF boasts the most powerful Lexus V8 road car engine ever made – a hand-built 5.0 litre lump.
This 2+2 sports car feels incredibly well-crafted inside the cockpit with beautiful seats and a dizzying array of gadgets.
With a price tag of around £60,000 it’s clear that Lexus sees the primary competition for this beast as the likes of the BMW M4.
It made a very favourable impression after appearing as a concept car at the 2012 Detroit Auto Show and now Lexus has confirmed the LF-LC will be going into production.
You can expect it to be rolling out of factories in 2016. While details are thin on the ground at present, the LF-LC is expected to be a hybrid 2+2 coupé and is seen as a rival to the likes of the Maserati GranTurismo with its potent combination of power, performance and eye-catching good looks.
Lexus LF-C2 Concept
Now for a look into the future. This stunning machine recently made its debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show and provides a wonderful insight into the direction that Lexus’s designers are looking to take the brand.
The radical departure, which was unveiled as a 2+2 machine, is completely roofless and sported what was referred to as an "experimental" version of the brand’s spindle grille.
All we can do is hope that it eventually finds its way into production.