12/28/2011—With 2011 coming to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the year that was, so in that spirit, let’s take a look back at the top Lexus stories of the last 12 months, in chronological order.

Lexus CT 200h Arrives in Dealerships

After debuting in 2010, the Lexus CT 200h went on sale in late March:

Lexus CT 200h

Despite the vehicle shortage caused by the Japanese tsunami, the CT 200h went on to have a very successful first year -- in September, it was reported that the hybrid hatchback was exceeding U.S. sales expectations by 50 percent.

Japanese Tsunami

The most significant event of the year happened in March, when a devastating combination tsunami/earthquake rocked Japan to its very core, causing immeasurable tragedy and heartbreak.

Flag of Japan

The catastrophe marked a particularly difficult challenge for Lexus, who produce over 80 percent of their models in manufacturing plants based in Japan—in fact, it wasn’t until October that production levels reached normal capacity.

The LF-Gh Concept Debut

In April, Lexus unveiled the LF-Gh concept car at the New York Auto Show, and in the process, revealed the brand’s new design direction:

Lexus LF-Gh Concept

The most prominent feature of this next-generation design was the hourglass shape defining the front end, which Lexus calls the spindle grille. This dramatic face, which GS designer Katsuhiko Inatomi says was “inspired by our desire to unify the vehicle with natural wind”, will soon be seen throughout the Lexus lineup.

The Next-Generation GS Arrives

After a quiet summer, Lexus chose a most auspicious location to reveal their only new production vehicle of the year, as the fourth-generation GS was introduced at a special event during the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance:

GS F Sport

Staying very close to the exterior design set by the LF-Gh, the next-generation GS is defined by its attention to the driving experience, as well as an exceptionally detailed interior, which boasts the largest-ever information display in a production vehicle:

GS F Sport interior

LFA Nürburgring Record Lap

LFA Nürburgring Record Lap

In early September, news broke on Twitter that Lexus test driver Akira Iida had piloted a LFA Nürburgring Edition around Germany’s famous Nürburgring Nordschleife in 7 minutes, 14.64 seconds. This single lap made the LFA one of the fastest production cars to ever run the benchmark track, and proved that it was a supercar in every sense of the word.

The lap, which happened during a LFA owners event, was eventually released on YouTube:

The New Concept

Determined to end the year on a high note, Lexus has slowly started to reveal their latest concept, which will make its debut at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show in January:

Lexus concept vehicle

Lexus concept vehicle

At this point, little is known about the new concept, but judging from these photos, it would appear Lexus plans to capitalize on the new design direction of the GS and start 2012 with a bang.