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Lexus, the luxury car brand from Toyota, is finally coming to India. Initially, it’ll offer three models for which bookings are open. The launch date is expected to be around March 24, 2017. The first ‘Lexus Boutique’ is likely to be located at the Taj Santacruz Hotel adjacent to the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (domestic terminal). The RX450h and LX450d SUVs and the ES300h sedan will be the first models to be launched. All the three models will be brought to India via the CBU route. Lexus will commence assembly in India in the near future.
The three models will come with all options that are available on the Japanese-spec models. The only feature they won’t get is the navigation system as Indian maps aren’t easy to configure on imports.
The first of the three models that Lexus is expected to start its India journey with is the top-of-the-range Land Cruiser-based seven-seat LX SUV. The petrol LX570 will be powered by a 383hp 5.7-litre V8 and the diesel LX450d gets a twin-turbo 269hp 4.5-litre V8. The diesel SUV is expected to go on sale first with only a five-seat option. The seven-seat petrol variant will be available in October. It will rival the Range Rover, Audi Q7 and Mercedes GL.
The RX SUV is the second of the three cars from Lexus. It will be available in hybrid avatar as the RX450h. Power will be generated by a 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine coupled with Toyota’s hybrid system like the one in the Prius and will be mated to an e-CVT gearbox. Together the power generated will be 308hp. To help improve ride quality on Indian roads, this SUV will get 18-inch alloys instead of the 20-inch ones available internationally. As a full import it is likely to be pricier than its rivals, the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3.
Squarely aimed at those looking for a relaxed and comfortable driving experience, the entry-level model to Lexus will be sold only as hybrid. The Lexus ES in fact shares more than a few parts with the Camry hybrid. An important one is its 2.5-litre petrol engine and the electric motor assist that’s paired with the exact same CVT gearbox. That these cars share a platform may also be an indication that the Lexus ES could be assembled in India. This would make it the first locally-assembled Lexus. If so, its prices will also dip thanks to the FAME scheme.
Lexus has always been a well-known brand in India despite never being officially present in the market. The company intends to bank on this premium image and will mostly price its cars at the higher end of its segments.
Tentative ex-showroom prices:
Lexus RX450h SUV: ₹1.17 crore
Lexus LX450d SUV: ₹2 crore
Lexus LX570d SUV: ₹2.15 crore
Lexus ES300h sedan: ₹75 lakh
Service and ownership experience should be a strong differentiator with Lexus, as per Toyota’s plans. It aims to extend to Lexus the same peace of mind associated with Toyota.
Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon and Bengaluru will get the first set of dealerships. All will be operational by March 2017 at the time of launch. Chandigarh, Cochin and Chennai will get the second set that will be operational by the end of the year.