OPINION | Lexus is incredibly popular in global markets, but hardly here in SA and it's baffling
• Lexus is very popular in global markets and sells in volume.
• The brand is still perceived by most as an old-man's car here in SA.
• All Lexus models come standard with a vast host of features and technology.
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In most families where there are two offspring or more, there is always one that gets more attention than the other.
This privilege is generally reserved for the older one - being the firstborn and assumed to be the most well-behaved. It's not always the case, though.
It is this type of family bond that Toyota and Lexus have. Toyota's roots started back in 1937 while the sister company, and more luxurious division, Lexus was founded around than 30 years ago.
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Even though they dine off the same marketing table, in reality, they have separate brands. The 'firstborn' Toyota is a market leader in all the 'bread and butter' segments but lacks an offering of any sort in the premium luxury category. And that's where Lexus steps in.
Many younger-generation enthusiasts have a misconception that Lexus is strictly an 'old man's car'. This type of assumption is attributed to the bulkier designs of the older GS, LS, and IS models, and also the fact that the majority of older consumers were choosing the brand as a retirement car - right place, wrong time sort of scenario.
Image: Lexus South Africa
Lexus prides itself on giving its customers full value for money with sophisticated quality in the performance and design departments. As an example of this, in the late 1980s, atelevision advert showed one of its burly LS 400 sedans has wine glasses stacked on the bonnet while it reached speeds over 200km/h on a dyno.
A baffling tale
Having attended the launch of the new ES300h earlier in 2020 and being behind the wheel of a 'better' Toyota for the first time, I could just as well have booked a first-class flight on Fly Emirates and told the pilot to keep flying. Such was the experience of driving a Lexus - and this was an entry-level offering!
Combining the experience of driving a Lexus, and comparing it against rivals in its segment, the figures just did not make sense for what was on offer. It's that good.
Lexus should be selling much, much more than what the current Naamsa sales suggest. The problem is that most people think that only German manufacturers are the measure of luxury, so your C-Class, A4, and 3 Series become the obvious choices without having to consider anything else.
To be fair, most Japanese manufacturers have aimed more towards mechanical efficacy, and it was with Lexus that Toyota broke the mould.
Spindle front grilles and an analogue clock have become features synonymous with the Lexus brand, all while incorporating hybrid technology to achieve the near-perfect balance between power and efficiency. It's unbelievable for the number of standard features on offer across the range yet people opt to be paying for those elsewhere.
The car is put together in typical Japanese manner with the best in mechanical operations whether it be a hybrid or standard combustion engine, carrying with it a different type of allure that you won't find with other offerings. Everything looks like it was tailor-made for the driver.
There are some cars you can't judge by sheer paper facts and numbers alone, and Lexus falls into that category.
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