Though Lexus is often best known for its luxury-oriented lineup, Toyota—the parent company of Lexus—has been ramping up the performance capabilities of its cars to pump a little more excitement into the brand. Back in 1989, Toyota began what it called a flagship program for a new performance line for Lexus, but it wouldn’t be until 2007 that the first vehicle from the development program would be presented at the North American International Auto Show. The Lexus IS F made its debut as the beginning of the F line of performance cars, starting a cascade of new releases. Out of all the choices, we picked our five favorite cars to showcase. If you’re looking for used Lexus performance cars, you’re likely to have the best luck checking online car sales to find one of these five incredible cars.
Lexus Performance: What the F Means
Though many have guessed at what the F in the model names means, Lexus insists it stands for Fuji Speedway. Located at the base of Mount Fuji in Japan, the Fuji Speedway has been dubbed the “temple of speed” due to the challenging nature of its curving lines carved out of the foothills of Japan’s sacred mountain. Because of the unforgiving nature of the track, Lexus chooses to utilize it as the testing ground for performance vehicles.
While most of the performance vehicles in the Lexus lineup use the F to designate their capability, the LC 500 is the exception. Rumors of an ultra-high-performance LC F model have floated around for a while, but there are still no assured plans to build an LC model with the F designation. There is, however, an RC F Fuji Speedway Edition, which comes with red calipers and a rear wing that could be yours for a touch over $100,000. Or you could just find a used model online and save your cash.
#5 – Lexus LC 500
We begin with the few Lexus performance vehicles without the F in its name. Despite the lack of familiar performance badging, the LC 500 has no trouble drawing buyers into its web. Under the hood is a familiar powertrain from Lexus with the 5.0-liter V8 paired to a ten-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. It harnesses incredible power, making 471 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque, even going back to its first model year in 2018.
Though the LC 500 is heavy by performance standards, Lexus fitted the car with all the proper hardware to make it a thrilling machine to drive. Not the fastest by any stretch, the LC 500 takes 4.7 seconds to build from zero to 60, but the beautiful tones of the exhaust are reason enough to forgive the slower (though hardly slow) time. The enlarged vented brakes on the rear wheels are more than enough to handle the speed, however, and the extra goodies like the optional limited-slip differential, adjustable dampers, and rear steering are all reasons to love what such a gorgeous car can do.
#4 – Lexus GS F
Lexus produced the GS since 1993, but it was in 2012 models that the F factor debuted with the fourth generation. Sadly, the GS F saw its last year of production as of 2020, and it was offered only as a single model without trim levels or much in the way of additional options. Once again, the 5.0-liter V8 roars from beneath another hood of the Lexus lineup, but here its output shifts again to 467 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque in more recent models. Like the LC 500, those gorgeous exhaust notes can be heard through the stacked finishers that allow a full-throated song to release when the gas pedal delivers its cue.
The rear-wheel drivetrain, damped aluminum suspension, and rear-wheel steering make the GS F a delight to drive on winding roads. Achieving zero to 60 times of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 168, there is plenty of thrill for those who want the excitement of sprinting to a finish line. Brembo brakes provide the stopping power needed to handle those speeds, and long drives are assured to be enjoyed in the comfort of the roomy interior with plush seating.
#3 – Lexus RC F Track Edition
The RC F nameplate has been around since 2015, so it’s moderately new for the F line; however, the Track Edition was first offered in 2019 as an upgraded option for more serious performance drivers. Like the LC 500, it’s also powered by the 5.0-liter V8, but with the RC F Track Edition, the same powertrain gets a slightly different output of 472 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. While the RC F is already focused on performance, the Track Edition variant is tuned for racing with lighter wheels, carbon fiber fittings like a rear wing, and carbon-ceramic brakes.
An impressive zero to 60 times of 4.0 seconds is achievable with the use of the standard electronic launch control, and the Track Edition can hit a top speed of 168 mph. Specific performance features like an adaptive suspension, torque-vectoring differential, and a well-sorted eight-speed automatic transmission are some of the means by which this edition achieves its excellent handling and responsiveness. On the outside, the RC F Track Edition can be found in white or matte gray, which may seem underwhelming until you open the doors to reveal the Circuit Red interior with leather seats and Alcantara trim.
#2 – Lexus LC 500h
When you want sports performance without the guilt of fuel-guzzling engines, you have a Lexus hybrid made for hugging curves in a futuristic coupe body styling that will turn heads. Lexus benefits from Toyota’s excellence at designing hybrid systems, and the multi-stage system found under the hood of the LC 500h features two electric motors paired with an Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 gas engine. This was the first Lexus to be manufactured with the multi-stage hybrid system, starting with 2016 models.
Combined, the electrified powertrain makes 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, which readily translates into a top speed of 155 mph. Taking the hybrid performance from zero to 60 is equal to the aforementioned V8 LC 500 at 4.7 seconds. The LC 500h also makes the most of a double-joint, multi-link aluminum suspension to keep the weight down and provide accurate handling, a consistent theme of the Lexus performance brand. Unique for a performance car, the hybrid powertrain actually uses a continuously variable transmission, although there is a manual shifting mode with simulated gears.
#1 – Lexus LFA
Four tours in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring is enough to prove any vehicle’s capability, and that alone could be the reasoning for the LFA to take the #1 slot on our list. It’s unfortunate that 2012 was the only model year for this fine piece of automotive engineering, as few vehicles display an engine as delicious as the 4.8-liter V10 found under its hood. A mind-bending 553 hp is the output available, with 345 lb-ft of twist. A zero to 60 time of 3.5 seconds is impressive as well, and it can reach a top speed of over 200 mph. This is a car bred for the track.
Only 500 examples were produced by Lexus, and the LFA is reported to be one of the most expensive street-legal cars ever built in Japan. The body is made mostly of carbon fiber-reinforced polymer, and it sports the same front-engine, rear-wheel drive layout as the rest of the performance models on this list. Where this vehicle shines is in its unique styling, with an aerodynamic body and exclusive engineering to improve its power-to-weight ratio. After taking multiple class wins in endurance racing on the Nurburgring, it seems fitting that the final production model was fitted with the Nurburgring package, and Lexus may still have a new model or two for sale.