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Sydney show: Lexus flips its IS wig

Lexus, topless: The IS250C appeared in Sydney a week after making its world debut in Paris.

Lexus winds up the ratchet on its IS range via facelift, convertible and F Sport kit

9 Oct 2008

APART from hosting an Australian debut appearance of the LF-Xh hybrid SUV concept, with which next year’s redesigned RX luxury SUV will share more than a passing similarity, Lexus Australia’s biggest-ever motor show exhibit was all about the Japanese luxury brand’s entry-level IS model.

In a second Australian premiere, the brand-new IS250C coupe-convertible attracted plenty of attention during opening day of the 2008 Australian International Motor Show (AIMS) at Sydney’s Darling Harbour today, direct from its world debut at last week’s Paris motor show.

As reported in our Paris wrap, the four-seater IS-based convertible features a three-piece folding aluminium hard-top that opens/closes in 21 seconds, new body panels rear of the A-pillar, unique LED tail-lights, specific alloy wheels, (claimed) class-leading boot and rear passenger space said to be on a par with the (five-seater) IS250, 300mm-longer doors, 50mm of extra rear overhang and a drag coefficient of 0.29Cd.

Lexus Australia confirmed the IS250C – which it said was tested locally for its wind, temperature, vibration, ventilation and dust and water sealing performance – will join its entry-level IS range in the second half of 2009, when a single variant powered by a 153kW 2.5-litre V6 (mated to a six-speed automatic transmission) is expected to be priced around $100,000.

It will join the facelifted IS sedan, which also made its Australian debut in Sydney today.

As part of the first upgrade since the IS was launched here in late 2005, the 2009 IS250 brings new bumpers, a new chrome grille surround, new wing mirrors with integrated indicators, new tail-lights, new 17-inch wheels for Sports Luxury grades and two new exterior paint colours – Molten Copper and Arctic Blue.

Non-cosmetic upgrades comprise a new centre instrument stack, revised switchgear, a more aerodynamic underbody, folding rear head restraints to improve rear vision, the additions of Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) traction/stability control as standard, and upgraded manual and automatic transmissions – the latter now featuring shift paddle override in Drive mode and quicker shifts.

31 center imageLeft: LF-Xh hybrid SUV concept.

Finally, while it is not in quite the same league as the piping-hot 5.0-litre V8-powered IS F that goes on sale next month, the IS250 sedan-based Sports Concept provided a preview of what could soon be offered here via the F Sport accessory range, which is already available in the US and now under consideration for Australia.

The go-faster IS250 in Sydney features larger cross-drilled two-piece brake rotors, Bilstein shock absorbers and springs, upgraded anti-roll bars and chassis bracing, revised air-intake and (stainless steel) exhaust systems, a carbon-fibre engine cover and front/rear spoilers, 10-spoke 19-inch forged aluminium wheels and a (35 per cent) shorter-shift manual transmission with 16 per cent stronger clutch.

“The introduction of the IS250 Sports Concept is still in preliminary stages but it's something we definitely want to investigate,” said Lexus Australia chief executive John Roca.

“The addition of the performance enhancements to the IS range would assist in attracting younger buyers to the Lexus brand – and give Lexus a vehicle that aspiring IS F customers could step into.

“In the meantime, Lexus will concentrate on introducing the IS F performance sedan to the local market. Once we get the hero car into the marketplace, the rest will fall into place.

“For the first time in Lexus history we can now claim we have an IS range. IS250C will join the soon-to-be-launched IS F and new IS250 sedan to form a very strong backbone for the brand.

“IS250C has been developed to strict Lexus standards – its superior NVH, wind turbulence characteristics, ride comfort, interior space and versatility will set a new benchmark for convertibles in its class.

“It will also arrive at a time when practicality and versatility are driving purchase decisions – with IS250C, consumers will not have to choose between sedan versatility and convertible enjoyment.

“Lexus is extremely excited about the addition of IS250C to the local model line-up in the later half of 2009,” said Mr Roca.

Read more:

First look: Lexus takes the lid off its IS convertible

First drive: Smokin' IS F is the wildest Lexus ever

F and CC versions of facelifted Lexus IS are just for starters

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