Lexus lost its sales crown to BMW last year, after a 11 year run at the top. The decline in sales is thanks to a lineup that has largely been stagnant over the last few years. Clearly, Lexus was coasting. Under new pressure to perform, Lexus has been putting a renewed effort into its products.
The rear-wheel drive 2013 Lexus GS was developed with a directive from Chief Executive Officer Akio Toyoda to advance Lexus styling and be fun to drive. Most who have tested it so far say it largely lives up to that. The interior is gorgeous and the exterior more engaging than any GS before it. The GS was the first Lexus to debut the spindle grille, which has now been spread across the lineup.
It is indeed polarizing, something that is a stark change for Lexus. Lexus, polarizing? Different need. Via Automotive News, Lexus Kazuo Ohara senior managing officer says polarizing is the whole point. “What we want more than anything in this rebirth is for unity among our Lexus lineup…a design that anyone and everyone likes is boring.” The effort includes a unified styling theme across the lineup, much like Audi (to the extreme), BMW and Mercedes-Benz have done. Toyota has given Lexus more autonomy in development as well as streamlining the approval process.
Toyoda rejected three design proposals for the GS, and the team that used to exhaustively vet each new car has reportedly been “cut by half.” Lexus hopes its revamp will help it keep more of its customers in the fold. Currently it retains about 70 percent of its buyers, a figure that is less than BMW and Mercedes- Benz. The new Lexus is looking a lot better to us. The next-generation IS should be a really impressive car. The current one is the lone Lexus product we’ve loved, and the next one is going to be based on the FR-S platform. Yes, times are a changing at Lexus – and not a moment too soon.