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Having already broken into the American auto market by the 1980s, Toyota found itself in a peculiar position. It was the Reagan era, Japan’s largest automaker was flush with cash, and had come to the realization that the American luxury market was being overrun by forgettable automobiles and European offerings. So the Japanese giant put its top teams to task, and before long, a company called Lexus was born through the revered LS 400.

Does Lexus make performance cars?

For years, critics and consumers alike were nonplussed by the automaker’s disinterest in producing performance vehicles, something Lexus took to heart. In the early 2000s, Toyota President Akio Toyoda officially decreed, “No more boring cars.” While this undoubtedly pertained to Lexus and its parent company Toyota alike, Lexus ensured that each model made from that point on was performance-minded. The company has been on a roll since 2008, and in the decade following, it produced five of the fastest Lexus performance cars to date.

5. Lexus IS F: (2008-2015)

This Lexus performance car is the IS F
2012 Lexus IS F | Lexus USA Newsroom

Debuting for the 2008 model year, the sporty variant of the four-door IS became the first Lexus performance car fast enough and big enough the challenge sports sedans from Europe. The ‘F’ in IS F stands for Fuji Speedway, a racetrack in Japan owned by Toyota, representing what Lexus’ parent company wanted in their push for exciting cars. Fortunately, they gave it a naturally-aspirated, large-displacement V8.

EngineTransmissionHorsepowerTorque (lb-ft)0-60 mphTop speed
5.0-liter V88-speed paddle-shifted automatic4163714.3 seconds170 mph

Priced competitively with the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 at just over $60,000 before options, the IS F soon became the performance figurehead not just for the Lexus line but for all Japanese sports sedans. While it may have been discontinued in 2014, used car fans will still find themselves seeking this Lexus performance car. The Lexus IS F is equipped with a sport-tuned suspension, high-performance Brembo brakes, a two-stage air intake system, and engine oil and automatic transmission fluid coolers designed to handle high-speed cornering.

4. Lexus GS F: (2013-Present)

This Lexus performance car is the GS F
2017 Lexus GS F | Lexus USA Newsroom

Styled to be the IS F’s bigger brother, the GS F was an even more powerful Lexus performance car. It’s sharply styled, rides atop custom-tuned SACHS suspension, and features some seriously sharp brake components.

Engine TransmissionHorsepowerTorque (lb-ft)0-60 mphTop speed
5.0-liter V88-speed paddle-shifted automatic4673894.4 seconds170 mph

The Lexus GS F may not have challenged Mercedes or BMW in its top-tier specs, yet it included ample amenities for a Lexus performance car in the mid-$80,000 range. Standard features include heated power seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, and carbon-fiber trim. But Car and Driver says that potential used buyers should beware that the Lexus Remote Touch infotainment control pad is “awkward” to utilize while at the helm of the big V8.

3. Lexus RC F: (2015-Present)

This Lexus performance car is a RC F
2016 Lexus RC F | Lexus USA Newsroom

The RC F may have a polarizing front fascia, but it’s also one of the fastest cars Lexus has ever made. Although it bears the exact same powertrain as the GS F super sedan, it is slightly quicker. It’s undoubtedly due to the series of traction settings to reconfigure the rear end to launch the coupe with extreme fervor. Moreover, the Lexus RC F weighs slightly less.

Engine TransmissionHorsepowerTorque (lb-ft)0-60 mphTop speed
5.0-liter V88-speed paddle-shifted automatic4723954.3 seconds170 mph

The RC F’s interior is notable for its plush comfort and elegant design, packed with chic premium materials. Technically, the 2+2 coupe provides seating for four, but four-passenger seating, but the cramped back seat is best used for cargo storage. Drivers won’t get too much as the RC F’s trunk offers just 10.1 cubic feet of room, Edmunds says. 

2. Lexus LC 500: (2018-Present)

This Lexus performance car is the LC 500
2018 Lexus LC 500 | Lexus USA Newsroom

The LC 500 is more spaceship than a Lexus performance car. With a low-slung, arrow-shaped, sports car silhouette, it wears the destination created by the Lexus SC as the luxury automaker’s premier coupe and convertible. Edmunds says the 2018 Lexus LC 500 has nine trim levels to choose from, which began at $66,000, but grew past $75,000 for the big V8.

Engine TransmissionHorsepowerTorque (lb-ft)0-60 mphTop speed
5.0-liter V810-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting4713984.7 seconds168

Unlike the aforementioned sports sedans, the LC 500 doesn’t feature optional all-wheel drive. That must be why it puts down a slightly slower 0 to 60 mph time. Nevertheless, this Lexus performance car is built to be more supple and sumptuous than bold and aggressive.

1. Lexus LFA: (2012)

The LFA is an expensive Lexus performance car.
2012 Lexus LFA | Lexus USA Newsroom

Taking the gold medal as the fastest Lexus performance car is the limited-edition LFA. The 500-unit coupe packed an F1-derived engine that revved so violently that Lexus had to install a digital tachometer because the analog unit couldn’t keep up. It was just one of many innovations that led to a final price tag of at least $350,000.

Engine TransmissionHorsepowerTorque (lb-ft)0-60 mphTop speed
4.8-liter V106-speed automated manual5523543.6 seconds202 mph

Since so few LFA’s made it to market, the weight metrics are a bit of a mystery, but it’s roughly 3,500 pounds. To keep the girth down, Lexus used carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP), which accounts for 65 percent of the LFA’s body composition by mass. Road & Track says it’s a 220-pound saving over the all-aluminum structure Lexus started with, then scrapped nearly a decade into development.

Do Lexus performance cars last long?

Lexus is known for producing reliable and durable vehicles, and this reputation extends to its performance-oriented models as well. While it may be tough to find a Lexus dealer or local mechanic to work on an LFA, the other models are far easier to maintain.

In the J.D. Power 2022 Vehicle Dependability Study, Lexus placed third among luxury brands, behind Genesis and Buick. Despite being a luxury brand—which are problem prone—Lexus was rated with 159 Problems per 100 vehicles (PP 100), just one more than Toyota’s 158 PP 100.


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