The 'L-Tuned' name came about after Lexus and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) decided the one thing the Lexus line-up lacked was an hard-edged sporting character, providing the look and sound of a tuned sportscar.
In August of 2001, Lexus launched a limited edition version of the IS300 called L-Tuned. Most of these cars were assembled at the dealer, however some were assembled at the port where they landed in the states; the only distinction being a sticker on the front windshield. These new L-Tuned versions came in two packages, a Stage I and Stage II which were comprised of various performance and cosmetic upgrades.
Lexus' U.S. executives are pressing their counterparts in Japan to give the L-Tuned division another chance, according to Automotive News. "There's nothing to announce yet," Jim Lentz, COO of Toyota Motor Sales said last week. "But the time is right to stretch Lexus as a core-luxury brand."
Lentz said the first L-Tuned vehicles which were built between 2000 and 2003 were more about cosmetics than performance. Many observers feel this is the reason the program fizzled out so quickly. There's speculation a new round of L-Tuned vehicles would more effectively target AMG and BMW's "M" division by offering tangible performance improvements.
In April, Lexus General Manager Bob Carter said a performance sub-brand had not been ruled out, but the company would "do high performance in a Lexus way."
Shortly after its release in 2001, the L-Tuned brand, a division of TRD was discontinued in 2003. Today, the L-Tuned brand is one of the rarest packages available for the IS300.