German and Italian luxury automakers are busy building V-10 and V-12 behemoths for their top-line cars, but Lexus executives say a hybrid V-8 engine will deliver more value and technical prowess for their brand.
"It would be easy to develop a V-12 for Lexus, but it also would be very expensive," Saturo Maruyamano, chief engineer of the 2007 Lexus LS 460, said at a press event in Salzburg, Austria. "If we did a V-12, we would just be following other people, not leading.
"Our V-8 hybrid will beat the V-12 on horsepower and on fuel economy. Plus, with a hybrid, you get all-wheel drive, so the handling will be terrific."
Next year Lexus will launch the LS 600hL, a long-wheelbase hybrid version of the LS 460. Lexus contends it will have as much power as a 6.0-liter V-12, but with the fuel economy of a small-displacement V-8.
But Lexus also is developing a production version of the LF-A concept supercar. Insiders say the engine could be a V-8 hybrid, a large-displacement V-8 or even a V-10.