Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus is finally coming to India, and will make its entry with three models. Official launch date for the Lexus range in India is likely to be March 24, 2017. Bookings for the cars have commenced, but deliveries will start only thereafter. The first Lexus dealership will be set up in Mumbai and will be operational before the official launch early next year.
The first 'Lexus Boutique' will most likely be at the Taj Santacruz Hotel, located right next to Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (Domestic Terminal). The first models to be launched will be the RX450h and LX450d SUVs and the ES300h sedan. Initially, all three models will be fully imported from Japan via the CBU route. The carmaker is currently gearing up for local assembly in India, but that will commence later.
The Lexus line-up in India will come with all options that are available in the Japanese-spec models. However, the first batch of India-spec cars will miss out on the navigation system as India maps are difficult to configure on imports.
Lexus RX450h SUV
The Lexus RX-series is a popular Lexus model globally. Currently in its fourth generation, this SUV will come to India in the RX450h guise. The Lexus RX450h will be powered by a 3.5-litre, V6 petrol motor coupled to Toyota’s Hybrid system, similar to the one in the Prius, mated to an e-CVT gearbox. The combined output will be 308hp. In international markets, the SUV rivals the likes of the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. Sources tell us that this SUV will be priced above its rivals since it will be sold as a fully imported unit. India-spec models will get 18-inch alloy wheels, instead of the 20-incher available internationally, which according to sources, will help improve the ride quality when driving on our roads.
Lexus ES300h sedan
The ES300h is based on the Camry sedan. It will be Lexus’ entry-ticket model in India. Like its RX cousin, it will also come to India in a hybrid guise. The sedan is aimed at drivers and chauffeur-driven owners looking for a relaxed and comfortable commute, and not for those seeking a sporty driving experience. It shares most of its underpinnings with the Camry hybrid, including its 2.5-litre petrol engine and the electric motor assist mated to the same CVT gearbox. Sources tell us that this is likely to be one of the first models to go in for local assembly in India, thanks to its shared platform with the Camry that is locally assembled here. This also means that the locally built ES300h will see a dip in pricing thanks to the FAME scheme.
Lexus LX450d/Lexus LX570 SUV
The LX SUV is the brand’s flagship model globally. Based on the mighty Toyota Land Cruiser, the Lexus LX for international markets is available with two engine options. The petrol-powered LX570 comes with a 5.7-litre V8 engine good for 383hp and 546Nm of torque, while the diesel-powered LX450d gets a twin-turbo 4.5-litre V8 diesel engine good for 269hp and a massive 650Nm of torque. Both engines are available on the Toyota Land Cruiser meant for international markets.
Company sources tell us that the Lexus LX450d will be offered as a five-seater initially, with a seven-seat petrol variant joining the line-up by October 2017. The LX series of SUVs rival the likes of the Range Rover, Audi Q7 and the Mercedes GL.
Despite not being present in the Indian market, Lexus is still a relatively well-known brand amongst Indian luxury car buyers. The manufacturer aims to cash in on Lexus’ premium image and will price its models at the higher end of their respective segments.
Tentative ex-showroom prices for the Lexus range in India are as follows:
Lexus RX450h SUV: Rs 1.17 crore
Lexus LX450d SUV: Rs 2 crore
Lexus LX570 SUV: Rs 2.15 crore
Lexus ES300h sedan: Rs 75 lakh
Toyota also plans to make service and the ownership experience a strong differentiator with Lexus. The manufacturer will offer multiple service and warranty schemes to provide customers with the same peace of mind associated with the brand.
The first set of dealerships in India will be in Mumbai, Delhi, Gurgaon and Bengaluru. These will be operational by March 2017 when the brand launches in India. The second set of dealerships will be in Chandigarh, Cochin and Chennai and will be operational towards the end of 2017.