2013 Lexus IS unveiled
* All-new Lexus IS saloon * BMW 3 Series rival * On sale in summer, from around 26,000...
The 2013 Lexus IS has been unveiled at the Detroit motor show.
The all-new Lexus IS will be a rival for compact executive saloons such as the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. Lexus says it has been strongly influenced by the Lexus LF-CC concept car, which made its debut at the 2012 Paris motor show.
Although the LF-CC is a coupe, the new IS shares many of its design features, including a large 'spindle' front grille and rear lights that swoop downward into the sides of the car.
F Sport models have a sportier look, with a different front grille and bumper, and bespoke interior trim and front seats.
Inside, the IS's cabin has a similar look to that of the larger Lexus GS, with a large display screen and simple dashboard layout. A lower driving position is designed to give a sportier feel, and the range of steering wheel reach adjustment has been increased over the current car's.
Practicality is improved compared with the current car, Lexus says, thanks to a wider body and longer wheelbase. Thinner front seat backs help to improve rear legroom, while the rear seats have a 60/40 split-folding function.
Paul Van der Burgh, director of Lexus Europe, told What Car? at the 2012 Paris motor show that the IS range will expand. As well as a new four-door saloon, there'll be a two-door coupe, which will look similar to the LF-CC.
Van der Burgh also told us the current car's 2.2-litre diesel engine will be dropped from the IS range when the new version goes on sale this summer.
Instead, the new IS will be available with an entry-level small-capacity petrol engine, while the big-selling model will use a fresh hybrid powertrain that combines a new direct-injection, four-cylinder, 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor.
The hybrid IS 300 model will be a direct rival for 2.0-litre diesel versions of cars such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, with similar power and performance. Lexus says that CO2 emissions should fall below 100g/km, while average economy should be more than 65mpg. Our Green Car of the Year the BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics emits 109g/km.
The suspension and steering have been revised to improve how the IS drives, and there's a new Drive Mode Select system that allows the driver to choose between Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport S modes. Cars that have Adaptive Variable Suspension have a fifth mode Sport S+.
The new hybrid powertrain will make its debut in the GS executive saloon in the first half of 2013.
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