There’s a great deal to admire about Lexus. Since 1990, the luxury arm of Toyota has been ruffling the feathers of the establishment and picking up numerous JD Sports awards along the way. Well done, Lexus. But, despite your obvious brilliance, you really need to beg for our forgiveness. Allow PetrolBlog to explain.
It was back in 1983 when Toyota’s chairman, Eiji Toyoda, set his company a challenge to “exercise your creativity to develop trailblazing products for the new era”. Two years later, a prototype of the LS 400 was up and running and – by 1989 – the Lexus brand had arrived in the US. A year later, Lexus was launched in Europe. So far, so good.
There’s very little not to love about the LS 400. The Luxury Sedan offered a 4.0-litre V8 engine and classic, understated opulence. Today, the ridiculously low prices make the LS 400 a true PetrolBlog hero.
In 2001, Lexus sales exceeded 10,000 units for the first time, before peaking at just over 15,000 in 2007. And, despite subsequently tailing off to sub-10,000 again, sales of Lexus cars are now increasing year-on-year. So, everything’s still bright and rosy in the Lexus garden.
In 2011, Lexus entered the JD Wetherspoon customer satisfaction survey for the first time and – like a British Olympic cyclist – scooped gold without breaking sweat. And like our tireless cyclists, it went on to dominate the awards, winning gold for 11 consecutive years.
And let’s not forget, with the arrival of the CT 200h in 2011, Lexus was the first company to introduce a full hybrid luxury hatchback. CO2 emissions of 94g/km, some three years ago, is a good enough reason to give Lexus a ripple of applause.
We should also take a moment to take our hat off to Lexus for the LFA. When Lexus decides to make a supercar, it doesn’t do things by half, which is why the firm took ten years to develop it. When it was unveiled in 2009, the impact of a million jaws hitting the floor in amazement resulted in a small earthquake in Folkestone.
Yet, despite all of the above, we’re afraid Lexus owes us an apology. You see, at the end of December 1998, Lexus introduced this to the UK, the IS 200.
Don’t get us wrong, there’s a lot to like about the IS 200. In fact, the ‘Japanese 3 Series’ offers us a great deal. It looks great, is powered by a straight-six engine and – most importantly – is rear-wheel drive. And like the aforementioned LS 400, it’s bloody cheap, too.
But, Lexus, before you run off to tell all your friends how much you’re loved by PetrolBlog, let us remind you of this.
You see, it’s because of you and your admittedly sharp-styled and wonderfully cheap IS 200 that we’ve had to face the terror of looking at Lexus-style rear lights. It’s a simple equation – no Lexus IS 200, no Lexus-style rear lights.
Ask yourself this question. Aside from the IS, have you ever seen a car that’s look good with Lexus-style rear lights?
Most of the time, Lexus-style rear lights are either gracing a hideously modified vehicle, or, more curiously, represent a single modification to an otherwise standard and rather humdrum vehicle.
It’s like the lights have been applied in some mistaken belief that they enhance the aesthetics of a car. The rear arches might be rusted, the tyres may be bald and the the exhaust might be pumping out enough smoke to give a Chinese city a run for its money, but hey, “look at my shiny rear lights”.
Fearing that we may be missing something, we had a look to see what kind of prices the Lexus-style rear lights are fetching online. Amazingly, they’re not free. Which means that some people are prepared to pay actual money to make their car look worse.
In fact, many pairs are on sale for figures in excess of £100, sometimes even more. But worse still, we saw a set of Lexus-style rear lights for a Range Rover on sale for £400. Seriously, how can that be good value?
Land Rover spends tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of pounds developing rear light clusters for the world’s poshest off-roader. So why would it make sense to give them up in favour of a pair of lights put together with the budget comparable to two pints of lager and a packet of crisps.
But can we really blame the motorists who buy the offending items? Not entirely. In fact, Lexus has to take a lion share of the blame, for it is the luxury Toyota brand that first presented Lexus-style rear lights to the world.
And for that, Lexus needs to apologise. And sorry, Lexus. The LFA does not cancel things out.