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Detroit show: All-new Lexus IS bound for Motown

Stepping up: The new Lexus IS will share the platform from the new GS and top it with styling from the LF-CC concept coupe shown in Paris in September (pictured).

Lexus IS set to go hybrid in 2013 as part of expanded range that will include coupe

5 Dec 2012

LEXUS has confirmed it will reveal the all-new 2013 Lexus IS at the Detroit motor show in January.

At launch, the new model – based on the current GS platform and with styling from the LF-CC concept shown in coupe form at the Paris motor show – will come in V6 petrol and, for the first time in IS, four-cylinder hybrid formats.

Called IS250 and IS300h respectively, these models are sure to be joined by sporty F-Sport and hot IS F variants, along with a second-generation cabrio and – in another IS first – two-door coupe form.

If Lexus follows its usual launch strategy, the IS should hit the streets of the United States and Japan within months of its Detroit debut, and land in Australia about the middle of 2013.

Lexus has already started its publicity machine ahead of the global debut of its mass-selling model and BMW 3 Series competitor, giving selected motoring journalists a drive of prototypes in California after the recent motor show in Los Angeles.

Reports from those drives suggest the hybrid will be powered by a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder Atkinson cycle engine, hooked up to an electric motor driving the rear wheels.

Unlike the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the IS is expected to get D-4S dual fuel injection system – both direct and port – as employed on the Toyota 86 sports car and other high performance models, enhancing both power and emissions.

And like other Lexus hybrids, it will drive the wheels through a set of planetary gears that act like a mechanical continuously variable transmission.

Britain’s Autocar says the hybrid can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in about 6.9 seconds.

At Paris, Lexus said the powertrain of the LF-CC could achieve class-leading energy efficiency, with more than 1.47kW of power per gram of CO2.

The coupe adopted the current ‘spindle grille’ design introduced on the larger GS last year and continued on with ES and LS, complete with mesh grille.

The LF-CC was regarded by many as one of the stars of the Paris show, with its flowing ‘molten metal’ lines and flawless ‘fluid titanium’ paint stopping people in their tracks.

In the past, Lexus designers have tended to tone down the styling for production versions, meaning the IS sedan due in Detroit might not be quite so dramatic.

Autocar says the double-wishbone front suspension set-up gets stiffer anti-roll bars and softer spring rates to improve the ride without sacrificing handling, and the multi-link rear suspension is new.

The chassis has four electronic-controlled driving modes – Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+.

The IS is Lexus’ top-selling model in Australia, just out-selling the RX SUV.

So far this year, Lexus Australia has sold 1942 IS cars in IS250, IS250C, IS350 and IS F guises, down 500 units or 20 per cent on last year’s showroom performance.

The IS unveiling on January 15 will beamed to the world via the Lexus website.

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