Every country has a car trend that is unique and in a country, different states can have different car trends it is known for. In Nigeria for example, when you visit Ibadan in Oyo state the Nissan Micra would have you thinking it was manufactured in the city because it is the most common car used as a taxi. Today, we talk about Lexus vs Benz in Nigeria.
The Nissan Micra is a car culture in Ibadan
A trend is going on in Nigeria and I would like you to understand why and how it is happening. Lexus is gradually becoming a very strong competitor of Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria for a couple of reasons.
First, let's get to know about the Japanese car brand. Lexus is a company that was born out of the Toyota Motor Corporation as Toyota wanted to win the hearts of European car buyers and the standard regular Toyota cars in production than weren't up to the task.
Lexus has a basic reason for its inception and that is "a luxury Toyota brand". I am also wondering why Toyota had to birth a completely new company for this purpose, but the reason is self-evident. Toyota was making a lot of sales in the sedan and SUV markets around the world. However, in the USA and European countries, Toyota wasn't seen as a premium car brand.
German/American automobile manufacturers were making all the sales for premium vehicles so Lexus had to be founded independently so it would gain its own respect from car buyers especially in the USA and European countries. Have you noticed how Ford build their sedans? They have fewer curves than Japanese cars because that is how Americans like their cars.
We can see an obvious difference in design patterns
Lexus started its production with the Lexus LS in 1989. You will notice that the car carries a very boxy exterior appearance just the way Americans like it and just like that, the Lexus premium car odyssey began because the LS even did better in sales than BMW and Mercedes-Benz competitors of 1990 (7 series and S-class respectively).
Lexus had to conform to USA design type of cars just for more sales
Lexus got very popular in Nigeria with the Lexus RX300 which was the first Lexus SUV and it was a cooler looking SUV to buy with the Toyota 4Runner and Nissan Pathfinder being its major competitors in Nigeria because Nigerians had not matched Lexus to be on the level of the Mercedes-Benz yet. This car flooded Nigeria's Tokunbo market around 2009.
This is a very popular Lexus SUV in Nigeria
The level of luxury in Benz SUVs of the early 2000s was still leading Lexus by a very wide gap but Lexus RX300 was a reliable and better performing Japanese SUV brand than the existing Nissan, Toyota and Honda SUVs to most Nigerians.
After the RX300 had its reign in Nigeria, the ES300 4th generation started becoming the better version of a Toyota Camry XV30 (Big Daddy) because of the interior finishing and other luxury packages the Camry was lacking.
Very obvious these cars are twins
It was at this time Nigerian car owners started understanding what Lexus stood for. An affordable premium car that is very reliable and is based on the world's best selling car platform (Toyota Motor Corporation).
Then in 2007, Benz introduced the all-new W204 luxury compact sedan that took over Nigeria's market a few months after it's release.
These two cars are the young driver's favourite luxury cars in Nigeria
This Benz became the face of a "Sleek car" in Nigeria and everyone booked it as a dream car but the Lexus company had a plan in place already.
Lexus released the IS model second generation in 2005 and in 2014, Nigerians already realised that the IS was the perfect rival to the C-class because they had the same compact luxury build and they both looked beautifully designed as sporty cars. The IS was cheaper than the C-class and it uses replacement parts by Toyota which is very affordable I mean! Nigerians were in love with this car and the buzz on the W204 started dropping as people would buy the Lexus and extremely modify the cars to look nothing like an ordinary sporty car.
Watch how Lexus wins a reliability test against Mercedes-Benz in this video :
In 2011, Lexus deliberately designed the IS350 to compete with the three German compact sedans at the time and they succeeded in making the IS350 faster than a Benz E350, have more torque than the Audi A4 and more horsepower than the BMW 335i.
The Lexus IS350 was built to compete with Germans
The greatest competitor to Benz in most regions of the world is the BMW and AUDI but in Nigeria, Lexus has won the hearts of Luxury car lovers. Nigerians don't even see Lexus as a car Toyota innovated, they see an affordable luxury car that doesn't have too many models/trims to pick from. It is very tricky buying a used Benz in Nigeria because of reliability issues and there are some special reminders every Benz owner needs to know but with Lexus, it's a free world because it is Japanese and very Nigerian user friendly as long as you know the maintenance habits for Lexus cars in Nigeria.
I was at a car show in Lagos, Nigeria last year and a motorcade of luxury cars were marching around the popular Tafawa Balewa Square. Benz, BMW, performance American muscle cars were the only cars I could see until something happened! a Lexus 2017 RX350. This car is now a direct competitor to the 2015 GLE SUV class and above.
Honestly, I prefer the RX350's appearance to the GLE because of those edges!
The major things that make up a premium car is not a lot. Leather interior, high-quality materials for the interior makeup, alloy wheels, high-quality infotainment and display, safety features, ride comfort and an appealing exterior appearance.
Performance-wise, Lexus is matching up with Mercedes-Benz and we can see that not just with the Lexus IS vs Benz C-Class but also with the GS350 F-sport and the Mercedes-Benz E350 and this GS/E-Class rivalry got better in 2016 when Lexus developed a fully high performing GSF. The F-sport is the official performance division of Lexus just the way Mercedes-Benz has its dear AMG.
Another Lexus and Benz rivalry all over the world
There is only one aspect of Lexus cars that still haven't been able to match up with a Benz and that is in suspension and ride stability.
The fastest 4-door Mercedes-Benz in the world, will Lexus will respond soon?
Though the first LS used air suspension since Lexus started using Toyota parts in its suspension because of the economy, this would be the only reason Lexus won't be able to completely outweigh the pros of having a Mercedes-Benz in Nigeria. Time will tell anyway, kudos to Lexus for having the courage to put up a strong fence against the German superior automobile giant.