Having already broken into the American auto market by the 1980s, Toyota found itself itself in a peculiar position. It was the Reagan era, Japan’s largest automaker was flush with cash, and had come to the realization that the American luxury market was being overrun by forgettable automobiles and European offerings. So the Japanese giant put its top teams to task, and before long a company called Lexus was born, a brand that in turn birthed two sedans in 1989.
Less than thirteen years later Lexus had the best selling luxury car and luxury SUV in America, and had become a staple of affluent neighborhoods across the country. Practicality, reliability, safety, cabin comforts, and a fuel-efficient, extremely tranquil ride had made Lexus incredibly successful, giving it an edge over virtually all of its competitors.
But for years, critics and consumers alike were nonplussed by the automaker’s disinterest in producing performance vehicles, something Lexus took to heart. In the fall of 2008, the 416 horsepower IS F was unleashed on American streets to great fanfare, a testament to what’s possible when some passion pushes the bean counters out of the way. The V8-powered sport sedan was followed four years later by the LFA, a supercar that was limited to 500 units and commanded a price of $375,000.
Flash-forward another four years and Toyota President Akio Toyoda has officially decreed, “No more boring cars.” While this undoubtedly pertains to Lexus and its parent company Toyota alike, we’ve opted to focus on just the luxury automaker today. Lexus really has been on a roll since 2008, and after calculating acceleration to sixty times, we’ve come up with ten clear winners that prove it.
10. RC 350 F Sport
Consider this the “entry level” performance Lexus. In 350 trim, the RC packs a 306 horsepower wallop, which catapults the sedan to 60 in 5.6 seconds when rear-wheel drive trim. The F Sport package adds some cool aero pieces, suspension tweaks, and aesthetic upgrades, but doesn’t do much in the way of bumping performance gains.
9. IS 350 F Sport
Since it sports the same V6 and F Sport engineering as the RC 350 coupe, it’s no surprise that the rear-wheel drive version of the IS 350 ties the RC with a 5.6 second dash to 60. But because the IS sedan has a curb weight that’s a full 155 pounds lighter, chances are that repeating these zero to 60 sprints will eventually show the sedan’s superiority, thus earning it a number nine spot on today’s cheat sheet.
8. 2008-2016 LS 600h
In the past, most of Toyota’s hybrids were designed purely for fuel efficiency, until the now-retired LS 600h was released with 438 total system horsepower. Instead of just pushing high MPGs, its hybrid system worked in conjunction with the internal combustion engine to produce one hell of a torque-filled driving experience. This meant the 600h had the ability to accelerate from a standstill to 60 in just 5.5 seconds, which is impressive given the vehicle’s 5,159 pound curb weight.
7. LS 460
Lexus has plenty of options for buyers looking for comfy, feature-laden sedans at a variety of price points. But after the retirement of the 600 a few years back, a void was left in the lineup, one that the LS 460 happily took over. As the reigning patriarch of the luxury brand, the 460 sports a 4.6-liter V8 beneath its bonnet and produces 386 horsepower. With its rear wheels spinning freely, the 460 has the ability to make zero to 60 sprints in just 5.4 seconds, which is impressive for something so big.
6. 2012 IS F
Prior to the introduction of the IS F, Lexus didn’t have a dedicated performance sedan that could battle the incumbent luxury leaders in Germany. But that all changed in 2008, when the marque released a 416 horsepower, low-slung, V8-powered performance freak on American roads. Priced competitively with the BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 at just over $60,000 before options, the IS F soon became the performance figurehead not just for the Lexus line, but for all Japanese sport sedans. While it may have been discontinued in 2014, used car fans will still find themselves reaching 60 from a standstill in a mere 4.6 seconds without issue.
5. GS F
Words cannot encompass our love for the GS F sport sedan. It’s sharply styled, rides atop custom-tuned SACHS suspension, is comfortable as hell, and features some seriously sharp brake components. Oh, and did we mention that the GS F also houses a 5.0-liter V8 that generates 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque and can hit 60 in 4.4 seconds? Yes, it does all that and then some, all at a price that is well beyond what most people are willing to spend.
4. RC F
The RC F may have one hell of a polarizing nose, but it’s also one of the fastest cars Lexus has ever made. Although it bears the exact same powertrain as the GS F super sedan, our testing found the RC F could reach 60 in a slightly sharper 4.3 seconds. This was undoubtedly due to the series of traction settings that allowed us to reconfigure the rear end in order to launch the coupe with extreme fervor, and also because the RC F weighs slightly less.
3. LC 500
The LC 500 is a space ship like no other, and with a V8 on board that generates 471 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of twist, you’d better believe it can make the jump to hyperspace. Launching to 60 comes in as little as 4.3 seconds, and while we admire the GS F for its practicality and performance, it’s hard to ignore the LC’s sex appeal and low-slung stance.
Taking the silver medal today is the LFA, a limited-edition supercar that Lexus created just to say, “Yeah, we can do that too,” to Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini. The discontinued coupe packed an F1-derived 5.2-liter V10, which revved so fast that Lexus reportedly had to install a digital tach because the analog unit couldn’t keep up. Spewing forth 552 horsepower, the lightweight LFA moved to 60 in just 3.6 seconds, and would go on to reach a terminal velocity of 202 miles per hour.
1. LFA Nürburgring Performance Package
Lexus’ engineers squeezed out an additional 10 horsepower from the already outrageous LFA in order to make the hyper-exclusive Nürburgring Performance Package possible. Sporting 562 ponies, this über rare run featured a re-calibrated transmission, more aggressive aerodynamics, and track-tuned suspension. As a result, this model lapped the Nürburgring in a mere 7 minutes and 14 seconds, setting a record at the time for a car with non-competition tires, and establishing its rightful place as the fastest car Lexus has ever produced.