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Paris show: Lexus locks in concept debut

Down sizer: The Lexus RX SUV might finally get a small brother to take on the big-selling luxury compact SUV market.

Lexus compact SUV a contender for Paris show reveal ahead of RAV4 in LA

10 Sep 2012

LEXUS has announced it will show a new concept car at the Paris motor show late this month, giving rise to speculation that it might preview the long-awaited Lexus compact SUV or the third-generation IS sedan due next year.

All will be revealed next week when Toyota’s prestige brand has promised to release images and information of the vehicle that should, if it follows Lexus form in recent years, make it into production.

Whatever it is, the vehicle is also likely to make it to Australian showrooms, with Lexus Australia marketing manager Peter Evans telling GoAuto in June that the Paris debut vehicle would be “worth looking at from our point of view”.

The concept will appear on the Paris stand alongside the new range-topping LS600h F Sport version of its flagship sedan that will go on sale in Australia in November, debuting at Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival.

Whichever way Lexus jumps in its choice of concept for Paris – compact SUV or IS – the other will not be far behind, perhaps debuting at one of the big upcoming United States motor shows, at Los Angeles in November or Detroit in January.

But with the all-new Toyota RAV4 predicted to debut at the LA show, it makes sense to show the Lexus version first, at Paris.

31 center imageFrom top: Lexus IS350 Lexus LS600h F Sport.

Lexus Australia has been sweating on the arrival of the compact SUV for some time, with CEO Tony Cramb mentioning his desire to get his hands on such a potential volume seller in several interviews.

The compact SUV project was confirmed by Lexus’ global product chief Karl Schlicht in an interview with Australian journalists at the GS debut at Pebble Beach, California, last year.

At the time, Mr Schlicht said the vehicle was still under “serious study” by Lexus, which had rejected previous designs over the years.

As the Lexus RX accounts for almost one third of Lexus sales in Australia, the potential for a major incremental boost in volume from a compact SUV is a major enticement for Lexus Australia to encourage its parent company to deliver such a vehicle.

The current Lexus IS – launched in 2005 – is the brand’s top seller in Australia – accounting for almost 40 per cent of sales so far this year – even though it is believed to be in its final 12 months.

The IS last received a facelift in 2009, and as the IS model cycle usually follows about a year after the GS, we can expect a new generation before the middle of 2013.

Meanwhile, Lexus Australia is getting set for a world debut of a “further development’ of a 370kW all-wheel-drive coupe – thought to be a development of the LF-LC shown at the Detroit motor show early this year – at the Sydney motor show in October.

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