The new generation of Lexus' IS sport sedan landed at the Detroit Auto Show on Tuesday morning ahead of a worldwide launch this summer. It will be offered with an initial choice of two gasoline engines, include a 3.5-liter V6 and a four-cylinder hybrid.
"We adopted an entirely different approach to the development of the new IS," says the car's Chief Engineer Junichi Furuyama. "Rather than develop each individual aspect in the hope they will combine to offer an engaging driving experience, we first established the kind of driving experience owners desire. With this as our initial premise, we then developed the individual performance elements to support it."
"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," he added.
The exterior and interior designs of the new IS were both previewed by Lexus’s LF-CC concept car and are characterized by their sharper lines. Key exterior elements include the brand's trademark spindle grille and the odd-looking headlamp clusters with "Nike" logo-shaped LED accents sitting on the bottom.
Inside, Lexus says it has refined cabin materials, trims and finishes and added new technological features. The new IS' wider body (+10mm or 0.4 inches) and longer wheelbase (+70mm or 2.8-inches) improve space for rear seat passengers (+85mm or 3.3 inches more knee room over the current model) and luggage capacity. The new rear seats also have a 60:40 split-folding function.
According to Lexus, new building techniques offer increased overall body rigidity, while the IS gains a revised double wishbone front suspension system offering a twenty percent increase in sway rigidity, with the rear adopting a new multi-link suspension system from the GS, which also lends its steering system.
The new IS gains a new Drive Mode Select system, with three switchable driving modes: Eco, Normal, & Sport.
Powertrain offerings in the U.S. at launch will include a 204hp 2.5-liter V6 for the IS 250 and a larger displacement 3.5-liter V6 for IS 350, both of which come with an 8-speed automatic transmission and will be available in rear- and all-wheel drive configurations.
In Detroit, Lexus also announced the IS 300h with a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder engine linked to an electric motor, which it says will be available in Europe, Japan and select international markets. Lexus did not say if it will offer the hybrid model in the States.
For the first time, the IS will gain an F Sport trim, which benefits from both unique sporting design features inside and out, and enhanced driving dynamics.
On the outside, the F Sport versions gain a special grille and front bumper treatment and 18-inch alloy wheels, while on board, there's a bespoke meter cluster with a moving center ring, inspired by the LFA, plus sport seats, steering wheel, steering wheel and shift knob, and aluminum pedals and scuff plates with the Lexus logo.
In the F Sport models, the front and rear suspension and the electric power steering are tuned to enhance handling, without compromising ride quality, or at least that' what Lexus claims.
Pricing for the new 2014 IS will be announced closer to launch.