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Lexus IS (2013) more details of new 3-series rival

By Jonathan Burn

First Official Pictures

15 January 2013 15:00

Lexus has pulled the cloth back on the all-new Lexus IS at the 2013 Detroit motor show, and announced more details of its new hybrid 3-series rival. This will be the first hybrid Lexus IS, and UK sales will start in summer 2013. 

What do we know about the new hybrid Lexus IS? 

The IS300h combines an electric motor with a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The torque output is yet to be confirmed, but there's 217bhp and Lexus is aiming for a sub-100g/km CO2 output and fuel consumption of at least 65mpg. Figures like that are likely to grab the attention of fleet managers, as Lexus hopes to close the gap on rivals like the BMW 3-series, Mercedes C-class and Audi A4

There's a non-hybrid model too, but this IS250 will be powered by a 204bhp 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine. It won't be a fleet favourite. 

The IS250h has a six-speed automatic transmission, the IS300h has a CVT gearbox, and both cars are rear-wheel drive.

Any other new IS info?

Yes, as we've finally seen the interior. Lexus has been drip-feeding information about the cabin of the IS, claiming inspiration has come from the LFA supercar, but the bigger GS has clearly influenced the design too.

An LFA-inspired steering wheel and driving position are claimed to give the IS a sportier feel. Lexus IS chief engineer Junichi Furuyama said: ‘Every aspect of the new IS has been engineered with a focus on sporting performance, agile handling, accurate response to driver input and highly communicative feedback.’

Lexus hopes a wider track (+10mm) will help its quest for more agile handling, while a longer wheelbase (+70mm) should mean a significant increase in rear cabin space for passengers. 

Aparently the hybrid's practicality won't suffer despite the electric hardware either: the IS300h's battery has been located beneath the boot floor, so it doesn't intrude on the loadspace length.

Will the 2013 Lexus IS be a truly sporty hybrid?

Lexus claims, by incorporating new laser welding techniques, the overall rigidity of the new IS has been increased. The double wishbone front suspension has also been revised, giving a 20% increase in roll stiffness. A quicker steering rack, according to the Japanese manufacturer, will also ensure a more agile car.

An even sportier F model will be available, distinguishable by its larger spindle-shaped grille, which Lexus says is neccessary to provide the extra cooling 'needed for sportier driving'.

UK sales start in summer 2013, with prices expected around £23,000 for the IS250, and £32,000 for the IS300 hybrid model.