Throughout its history, Lexus has made several amazing performance cars, mainly competing with BMW M and Mercedes-AMG. But the technology or even the need for a Lexus hot hatch has never existed until now. News coming out of Japan suggests the new Lexus LBX, which is a premium subcompact car, will receive a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine from the GR Yaris/Corolla as early as March 2024.
The only hatchback that Lexus ever made was the CT, a Golf-shaped compact with the powertrain from the Prius. It wasn’t what you’d consider fast or engaging. The Lexus LBX is technically a crossover, not a hatchback, but we’ve been seeing many automakers offer performance versions that are quite popular in Europe: Cupra Ateca, Audi SQ2, Ford Puma, and the Hyundai Kona N.
Our Japanese sources at Best Car Web claim the high-performance Lexus LBX will be launched as early as March 2024. It will be available with a 1.6-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder engine and a 6-speed manual gearbox. This is the same powertrain found in the GR Yaris, which rides on the same GA-B platform as the LBX, but also the GR Corolla.
In this application, the expected power rating is 307 PS and 370 Nm, equivalent to 303 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque. So even though it will have the smallest engine in the segment, the LBX will be a match on power with all of VW’s 2.0 TSI rivals (Audi SQ2, Cupra). However, without an auto gearbox, it won’t match their speed. That job will be taken by the new GR-DAT or Direct Auto Transmission, which is an 8-speed, directly confirmed by Toyota Chairman Akio Toyoda who called it a “game changer.”
As fast as a Golf R and as reliable as a Toyota? It sounds like the LBX has a successful recipe on its hands. Unfortunately, Lexus isn’t looking to sell this in the USA, although the transmission is coming to the GR Corolla.
According to our info, the LBX won’t get the “F” badge like all of Lexus’ older sports cars. Instead, this grade will be called LBX High Performance Specification or something along those lines. And Toyota will install all the usual upgrades. The crossover will have its suspension lowered, and various mechanical components will be taken from the GR Yaris. A complete body kit will make this as aggressive as any hot hatch.