I found the 2014 Lexus IS to be a surprisingly competent sport sedan, so I'm glad to hear that Lexus is planning more variants of the car. That is, if they can figure out which variants to make and for whom. Time to dig up some national stereotypes!
In a recent interview with Australia's Drive, Lexus IS chief engineer Junichi Furuyama said the brand is working to determine what derivatives of the IS they can put on the market next. The problem — and this always seems to be the case — is that the Europeans want a wagon, or perhaps even a small SUV, but Americans want a large SUV. (By "Americans", I mean Americans who aren't Jalopnik readers. You get the idea.) Here's what he said:
“There are many jobs for us, many shopping lists for the new development of vehicles,” says Furuyama-san. “So, how to manage the priorities of the new vehicles: coupe, we need a coupe; wagon, is a strong request in Europe; and a bigger SUV is a strong request from the US. There are many requests from the global [market].”
Furuyama-san says Lexus is in discussions with its distributors from around the world to gauge feedback on which model would be the most effective for each market.
“Of course, US say ‘oh, the bigger SUV is number one’, and Europe says ‘no, no, no - we don’t need a bigger SUV, we need a wagon or small SUV’; so we have to manage many requests from global, and make a decision which model is the first priority and which model is the most efficient,” he says.
An SUV based on the IS would be a first for Lexus. But recall that the first-gen Lexus IS, known as the Toyota Altezza in Japan, also came with a small wagon variant called the SportCross. I always liked that car, but it was never a strong seller on our shores. I can tell you that a wagon version of the new IS 350 F Sport is something I would like very, very much.
Furuyama said that if he had his way, he'd work on a coupe version of the IS, which would be ideal for the next IS-F performance model. Sadly, he couldn't comment on the future of that car, but he said it's possible it may not get another V8 like the outgoing one.
Also in the interview is a slight dig at BMW and their plethora of 3-Series derivatives these days, including but not limited to the 3-Series GT, 3 Touring, and inevitable 4-Series Gran Coupe. He says he'd love to do that with the IS, even if he can't understand why.
“I can’t believe why they can produce such kind of many variants. We don’t have such resources.”