Lexus is 250: Axa?s Best Executive Car

The Lexus IS 250 was named the Best Executive Car at the AXA Northern Ireland Car of the Year awards. The awards, which are sponsored by AXA Insurance, were presented by members of the Ulster Motoring Writers Association (UMWA) at a prestigious ceremony held in Belfast on 15th March 2007.

During the awards ceremony, the Chairman of the Ulster Motoring Writers’ Association, Jim McCauley, said: “When Lexus decided to challenge the dominant German brands in the executive sector, they knew from the onset that they could introduce levels of refinement and quality never before experienced in this class. Each model further typifies the excellence of the brand and the IS 250 is a worthy class winner.”

The Lexus IS, a series of executive cars produced by the luxury division of the Toyota Motor Corp., was introduced to rival the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the Nissan Skyline/Infiniti G35 sports sedans. In Japan, the car was originally sold as the Toyota Altezza.

The Toyota Altezza was launched in October 1998 while the Lexus IS 200 debuted in Europe in 1999 and in North America as the IS 300 in 2000. The first generation car was powered by I6. The second generation, powered by a V6 mated to Lexus cold air intake, debuted in 2006. A high-performance V8 variant was introduced by the automaker this year. According to Lexus, the “IS” designation stands for “Intelligent Sport.”

Separately, the automaker plans to expand its hybrid technology in crossovers. At present, Lexus is studying a plan to manufacture new vehicles that would boost further its fast-rising product lines. The automaker is now conducting market research on a potential compact hybrid crossover with distinctive body style. “Lexus does not intend to stop growing,” said Bob Carter, the division’s general manager. “We have not reached our limit.”

The upcoming Lexus crossover hybrid could be likened to the LF-X concept that has been around since 2003. The Lexus LF-X concept rides on a 116.5-inch wheelbase. The vehicle is 194.3 inches longer than Lexus’ GX 470 SUV.

The compact and subcompact segment is getting crowded. The Ford Motor Co., for one, is about to release a subcompact in the United States. Ford’s global product chief said that the Ford brand’s next-generation B-car will be the same around the world. The car will be introduced in the US to fill the subcompact category of the automaker.

There will be slight differences in vehicle tuning among markets, Ford’s Derrick Kuzak said. “Roads are different in China than they are in Germany than they are in the United States,” he added.

Additionally, Infiniti also will be introducing a redesigned full-size size luxury sport utility vehicle which will go on sale next month. The redesigned QX56 features new front and rear fascias, fog lights and 20-inch chromed aluminum-alloy wheels, a power-folding third-row 60/40 split seat and a sound system with a 9.5-gigabyte Music Box hard drive. The SUV is powered by a .6-liter V-8 engine that generates 320 horsepower.

Another threat to the segment is the cheaper Mitsubishi Lancer, which is now priced at $ 14,615. This amount is actually $ 589 lesser than its predecessor. The new model is given more standard safety features like the driver’s knee air bag. The Mitsubishi Lancer comes in three trim lines: the DE, ES and sport-tuned GTS. The base ES is priced at $ 16,615 and the GTS at $ 18,115. All prices include shipping.

BOLA TANGKAS