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Beijing show: Facelifted Lexus IS imminent

Light years: All that Lexus has shown of the IS facelift is this darkened shot of the front end, but more will be revealed next week at the Beijing show.

Lexus IS update set to bring 'evolutionary' design tweaks

Lexus logo20 Apr 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

LEXUS has announced that it will rip the covers off a facelifted version of its IS mid-sizer next week at the Beijing motor show.

The Japanese car-maker has only released a sole image that reveals the front third-quarter of the refreshed IS, showing off a new headlight design that is similar to the ones from the related RC sports coupe, which retains the swish-like daytime running light.

The picture also hints at larger, more dramatic lower air intakes at the front, while the signature spindle grille is likely to be tweaked.

Lexus said in a release that design will be an evolution of the existing IS.

“The upcoming new model will bring exciting breakthroughs based on the Lexus signature L-finesse design philosophy. The bold evolution of design with greatly enhanced visual impact will absolutely ignite people’s desire to put their hands on the steering wheel,” the statement read.

Timing for the Australian market is unclear at the moment, but more local information is expected at next week's Beijing reveal and an early-2017 arrival is highly likely.

Lexus is also yet to announce whether there will be any running changes under the skin, although an upgrade to the infotainment system and some other interior elements is likely.

A new 2.0-litre turbocharged IS200t variant arrived just over six months ago, becoming the new entry point to the IS range following the demise of the 2.5-litre V6-powered IS250 models.

The third-generation IS launched in Australia in mid-2013 and quickly overtook the RX SUV as the Toyota-owned brand's top seller here, but it was usurped in 2015 by the NX crossover that is the most popular Lexus by some margin.

In terms of its direct rivals in the premium mid-size segment, the IS was the third best-selling model in 2013 and 2014, behind the segment-leading Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3 Series, but in 2015 it slipped to fifth behind the then-new Mercedes-Benz CLA and the Audi A4 that was in run-out.

The Lexus IS is under pressure form more players in the competitive segment, including Jaguar's XE, which has pushed it to sixth spot in 2016 year-to-date sales.

More rivals are coming too, with Alfa Romeo's Giulia here by late 2016 or early 2017, and the production version of Hyundai sub brand Genesis' striking G70 that was revealed at last month's New York motor show.

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