Click Thumbnails to Enlarge

Lexus IS (2013) to get mini-GS look

By Tim Pollard (artist's impression by Christian Schulte)

25 October 2012 10:45

The new Lexus IS range will battle the BMW 3-series with its first hybrid powertrain and a slinky new coupe bodystyle. And that's not all: a small SUV to rival the Audi Q5 is also tipped to join the fray.

Currently, the IS is the odd-one-out among its Lexus peers, as it's the only model not available with hybrid power. The new saloon, launching around May 2013, will rectify that by adopting the 2.5-litre petrol/electric hybrid shown in the recent LF-CC concept car. But the range will be strictly petrol or hybrid, because Lexus won't replace the IS220d diesel. Is the lack of a derv option a mistake? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.

A successor to the M3-challenging, 417bhp IS-F isn't completely ruled out, but unlikely in the current climate, say insiders.

What bodystyles will I be able to choose for a 2013 Lexus IS?

The volume seller will of course be the saloon, as shown in CAR's artist impression. However, Lexus will come good on the LF-CC's coupe bodystyle and build a sleeker two-door option to fight the Audi A5 and BMW 3-series coupe. The current IS never got a true coupe model: the closest we got was the IS250C folding hard-top. We'll see the saloon first in March at the 2013 Geneva motor show, with a coupe to follow on in 2014. Prices will rise slightly over the current car's £24-£32k, but Lexus hints standard equipment levels will be higher to compensate.

Both the saloon and coupe IS will be available with Lexus F-sport trim - a range-wide sporty trim option in the same vein as BMW M Sport packs, or Audi S-line. As we've seen on the GS and LS, F-sport models get bigger alloy wheels, wider grille openings, and a rear lip spoiler (not to mention copious one-upmanship badging inside and out).

Is Lexus taking on the BMW X3 as well?

Reports suggest Lexus wants a slice of the downsized crossover market, and will build another model to sit below its RX450h.

The smaller car will keep the familiar 'spindle' design cues, but opt for smaller four-cylinder powertrains (with hybrid drive an option). The smart money is on the baby RX being twinned with Toyota's next-generation RAV4.