“Lexus is like Neiman Marcus. The quality isn’t that much better than what you’d get at a discount store, yet it’s incredibly expensive.”
Those aren’t my words, mind you. I’ve owned a Lexus and found it exceptionally nice, though certainly not overly thrilling. Those are the words of my lovely wife, who has very engrained perceptions about certain car brands.
She associates Lexus with spiffed-up Toyotas and doesn’t see the added-value proposition of the L logo on the grille.
That’s a sentiment that obviously isn’t widely shared, because Lexus remains one of the best-selling luxury car brands in America. Lexus has, however, suffered from a lack of performance and design credibility, especially when compared with BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.
Lexus knows it has a problem in those areas and has determined to do something about it.
Enter the LC 500: a rear-wheel drive, 467 horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8-powered bullet aimed directly at BMW and Mercedes. And no, it’s not a concept. It’s a production car — one that should terrify every German automaker, and maybe even the pony car stables at Ford and GM. It makes the M2, shown by BMW earlier in the day, look quaint. It was, simply put, the most exciting launch of the show, stealing the thunder of every other automaker in attendance.
This is Lexus going all Miley Cyrus on America. What was once a sweet, relatively boring, but nice-looking car company has gone wild and demanded attention by amping up the sexiness.
Lexus, of course, still builds its staid front-wheel-drive executive sedans and crossovers, but they come with that angular styling that will demand double-takes and, Lexus hopes, start to change the way Americans see the Japanese automaker.
Will cars like the LC 500 start to change car fans’ perception of Lexus?