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Lexus IS, RC and CT axed in Australia! New safety regulation spells end for half of brand's passenger cars - but it's still committed to ES, LC and LS

The IS mid-size sedan was significantly facelifted last November, but 12 months later, it will be no more.

Lexus Australia has discontinued the IS mid-size sedan, RC sports coupe and CT small hatchback due to a new local safety regulation that’s a world first.

Speaking to journalists this week, Lexus Australia chief executive Scott Thompson revealed last orders for the IS, RC and CT were called on June 30, with their final deliveries to start around November.

“We do have to say goodbye to IS, RC, and CT from November due to regulation changes that come into effect before all other global markets, here in Australia,” he said.

When asked what specifically brought IS, RC and CT to an end, Mr Thompson explained that ADR (Australia Design Rule) 85/00, effective from November 1, covers a new pole-side crash test that would’ve stopped the trio from passing future homologation.

“For us to keep selling those cars, that would’ve required a design change,” he said. “We had a lot of discussions with our parent company, we assessed the alternatives, and our decision was that we wanted to focus on the next generation of vehicles coming our way.

“So, hard decision, but one that we had to take into consideration.”

So, is Lexus Australia still committed to passenger cars, given only the ES mid-size sedan, LC sports car and LS upper-large sedan are left standing? Well, Mr Thompson was adamant in his response.

“The answer is 100 per cent yes,” he said. “Yes, the taste and expectations around passenger cars are changing. We believe in the medium segment right now, between the NX (SUV) and ES offerings, that we’ll cater for a wide section of the marketplace.”

For reference, the IS has been on sale locally since 1999, and its third-generation model only received a significant facelift last November. That said, the popular series is likely to return for a fourth iteration in the future, but it will be unavailable in the interim.

The RC, meanwhile, is going out with a bang after its arrival in 2014 and facelift in 2018, with its RC F performance flagship – the last remaining member of the F sub-brand – exiting with a one-off Track Edition variant with unique Hakuji matte white paintwork, which is inspired by Japanese porcelain.

Having launched in 2011, the CT is leaving without much fanfare, with its first and only generation having been facelifted in 2014 and 2017, after which question marks were hanging over its proverbial head regarding its long-term future.