The year is 2009, and the country welcomed a long-awaited luxury brand. That manufacturer was Lexus, and we waited 20 years for its arrival. 12 years have passed since they first landed here, and through the years, we've become fond of several of their models.
It's pretty tough to narrow down our favorites. After all, Lexus has rolled out a lot of good cars over the years. But with much difficulty, we narrowed it down to five.
2012-2017 LS 460L
The LS is the car that started it all for Lexus. Sure, the ES came first, but this flagship sedan made the brand a force to be reckoned with in the luxury car market. Sadly, we didn't get the first three generations here, but when the facelifted the fourth-generation arrived, we loved it.
When we tested it several years ago, we called it “The epitome of understated elegance”. From its smooth V8 to the exquisite materials inside, the LS made us feel like captains of industries. Then there was the ride. It's one of the few cars we've given a perfect score for comfort, which is no mean feat at all. It wasn't pretending to be a sports sedan in any way, it's all about traveling in the most comfortable way possible. And that's what we like about the full-sized Lexus.
2013-2015 Lexus RX350
It's the luxury crossover that started it all. If the RX became a flop when it was first released in 1999, it wouldn't inspire other automakers to make leather-lined crossovers too. The thing is, it quickly became one of Lexus' top sellers, and it still is to this day.
But for us, the RX came into its own by the third generation. It was no longer a luxed-up Toyota Harrier, and the product had matured by then. The 2013 facelift got a dose of more style along the way, introducing the now-signature Spindle Grille over the crossover and SUV lineup. We've since tested the current RX, but if you want to know how it got that good, you must take this generation out for a spin.
2013-2020 IS 350 F Sport
The thing about luxury sport sedans is that they're eye-wateringly expensive. You're looking at about PHP 4 million just to get a luxurious four-door with over 200 PS. So when Lexus introduced the third-generation IS in the country about eight years ago, it created quite a storm.
For under PHP 3 million at the time, you got a sport-luxury sedan with a 3.5-liter V6 producing over 300 PS. With that much power sent to the rear wheels, it was a fun car to drive too. But what makes the IS 350 one of our favorites is its Jekyll and Hyde personality. It's a great car to take on the race track, but it's also a quiet, relaxed, and comfortable daily driver. Lexus truly hit the nail on the head with this one.
2015-Present NX 300/300h
It's easy to be skeptical about the Lexus NX. The RAV4 underpinnings don't sound too inspiring, and it's easy to dismiss it as a fancy Toyota. But here's the thing about the NX, it doesn't feel anything like the model it's based on. If anything, it even expanded Lexus' appeal to a wider audience. Next to the IS 350, this is perhaps the most common Lexus you'll see on the road, and there's a good reason for that.
It may be classified as a compact crossover, but it's longer and more spacious than most of its competition. Opt for the standard NX 300 and you get a powerful, spacious, and luxurious crossover for just over PHP 3.2 million. It undercuts many of its competitors, but you won't feel shortchanged when you seat inside. It's not often we can say luxury and value in the same sentence, but the NX is an exception to that rule.
We're delightfully surprised Lexus Philippines even offered this model to the country. Having missed out on the IS-F, we weren't expecting them to bring in a lot of high-performance offerings here. So when they rolled out the GS-F, it was truly exciting news.
Yes, the RC-F arrived earlier, but a big, brutish sedan is one of the last things we expected Lexus Philippines to sell here. Its 5.0-liter V8 was a delight to the ears, while 478 PS pleased your other senses. The engine is also the reason why it's unique. In an age of downsized turbos, the GS-F sticks to the old-school formula of large, naturally-aspirated engines. If anything, we might not see a super sedan like it ever again.
Special Mention: LFA
It's one of the rarest cars ever made, and just seeing it in the metal is an honor itself. The LFA is still the crowning glory of Lexus, showcasing their engineering and technical know-how. Take that V10 engine for example. It's a ten-cylinder that's the size of a V8, but it's as light as a V6. That, folks, is the result of extreme engineering. Then, there's the sound. We were lucky enough to hear it start, and all we have is it doesn't make noise, it makes music.
The body is made from carbon fiber, and it's just one of the many exotic materials used to build this supercar. Its design isn't just for show either, as every panel's shape serves an aerodynamic purpose. Lexus even went as far as building a factory exclusive for this car. It's one of the many reasons why this car has a special place for us, even though we'll never get to drive it.
So, what about the other models? Just because we didn't mention them, it doesn't mean they're not worth a look. Besides, we've tested almost all of them, and it was a delight to have them sitting in our garages, even if it was just for a short time.
With that, happy birthday Lexus Philippines. We're looking forward to testing out more of their cars and expecting nothing but the best from them.