For the first time, a non-Toyota vehicle may get GR badging as rumors suggest that a high-performance version of the Lexus LBX will be powered by the GR Yaris’ 1.6-liter engine
November 11, 2023 at 12:49
The GR Yaris has been such a hit globally that its engine was deemed strong enough to power the larger Corolla hot hatch in North America. Now, rumors suggest that the engine will also form the basis for a high-performance version of a luxury vehicle: the Lexus LBX.
Recently unveiled, the LBX is a premium compact crossover that has become the smallest vehicle in the Lexus lineup. Based on an updated version of the TNGA-B platform, it already shares its underpinnings with the Toyota Yaris (though it’s more similar to the Yaris Cross).
Right now, power comes from a hybridized 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine that puts out 134 hp (100 kW/136 PS). However, in a press release last week, Lexus promised that a higher-performance version of the LBX would be unveiled at the Tokyo Auto Salon in January 2024, without clarifying if it’s a concept or a production model.
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Here’s the short statement from Lexus, translated from Japanese: “At the Tokyo Auto Salon in January 2024, we will showcase a new variant of the LBX with the power to enjoy driving and experience an extraordinary sense of exhilaration. We are planning to exhibit a performance model with a strengthened powertrain.”
Read: New Lexus LBX Debuts As Brand’s Smallest Model Ever, Based On Toyota Yaris Cross
Illustrations Carscoops / John Halas
While Lexus refrained from divulging details about the powertrain, rumors suggest that the model may be equipped with the GR Yaris’s 1.6 liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine that’s also found in America’s GR Corolla.
That would double the LBX’s output, delivering 268 hp (200 kW/272 PS), and make the crossover the first non-Toyota vehicle to use the engine. The rumor, which comes from Japan’s Mag-X, also suggests that the Lexus will have GR badging, another first for a non-Toyota vehicle.
“The high-performance version prepared for LBX seems to have been developed with the help of the GR company,” reports Mag-X. “The GR logo, which is not supposed to be engraved on Lexus cars, will be placed on the parts of the LBX.”
Where that GR badge goes remains to be seen. For instance, it is not clear that the vehicle will be called the GR LBX, but may instead get Lexus’s own F performance naming, with a separate badge that notes that power comes from Gazoo Racing on the engine, or elsewhere.
In a final twist, the outlet claims that the LBX will be offered with either a newly-developed eight-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual transmission. That would make it the first Lexus since 2013 to come with three pedals, per Australia’s Drive.
The high-performance LBX is also expected to get the same all-wheel-drive system as the GR Yaris, allowing drivers to move the majority of the torque forward or rearward. It will also get wider wheels, bigger wheel wells to contain them, and other visual updates that help convey that it has more power.
Unfortunately, it is not yet clear when the model will hit the road, but with a possible unveiling planned for January, we won’t have to wait too long to find out.
Note: This story contains independent illustrations which have no relation to Lexus