Lexus says it will cull its V8 engine as electric-hybrid drivetrains dictate a new direction for the luxury sub-brand’s performance-arm.
The Japanese maker is one of only a few manufacturers left in the premium segment to still use big naturally-aspirated bent-eight engines on flagship models. That could soon change as the brand expands its forced-induction line-up and, according to Lexus president Yoshihiro Sawa, introduces small-capacity hybrid drivetrains.
The F performance-arm's IS F, RC F and GS F are all powered by the same 5.0-litre V8 engine and its potent LFA supercar was equipped with a 4.8-litre V10. But reports suggest the upcoming LC F – based on the already V8-equipped LC500 – will feature a more efficient bi-turbo version of the engine before smaller hybrid-electric drivetrains take over. One of those cars could be a hybrid GT.
“I think that now, we’re in a transitional period. At this moment people say EVs are trendy but three years later, who knows? People like the sound, the dynamics [of combustion engines]. I think we cannot stick to the one solution when it comes to providing emotion,” Sawa told British outlet Auto Express.
“F is very important, with F we have to think of our own original way. One solution could be a pure F GT car, which could be a hybrid with an electric motor and a strong engine, giving a different kind of drive feel. We don’t stick to V8, V10, twin-turbocharged; they’re important but we’re looking at the future. We’d like to find a way to connect to the next era.”
To find a suitable drivetrain the maker might lean on its parent-brand Toyota to use a version of the technology developed for its hot Gazoo Racing supercar based on the Le Mans-winning vehicle.
However, Lexus will also introduce fully-electric drivetrains and is investigating alternative energy power such as hydrogen, though they are unlikely to be used in performance variants, for now.
“We will introduce an EV but on top of that we’re searching to decide which kind of EV will be lovable. It needs to have a luxury feeling too, because that is expected by our customers,” said Sawa.
“Akio Toyoda [boss of Toyota] wants to provide the freedom of mobility everywhere – not just in the city but also in the jungle, or the desert. We can look to EV but also hybrid, plug-in hybrid, fuel cell and normal petrol engines also.”