Posted Jan 15th 2013 10:42AM
Lexus is evidently dead serious about removing some of the starch from its collar, as evidenced by the boldly styled new IS sedan just unveiled here at the Detroit Auto Show We didn't know what to make of Lexus' entry-level sport sedan when we first saw images of it earlier this week. Dominated by the gaping maw of a spindle grille and flanked by headlamps with Nike swoosh daytime running lamps, the photos showed a distinctive (if not completely cohesive) design. Having now seen the design in the metal, we have to admit it comes together better than it does on screen.
The new model will feature both rear- and all-wheel drive models in both 2.5-litre V6 (IS250) and 3.5-litre V6 (IS350) trims. Lexus also showed an IS300h hybrid model at the reveal, but it is earmarked for Lexus' home market of Japan along with Europe and other markets. No word yet on why the model probably won't be sold here in North America, but our AutoblogGreen compatriots are looking into it.
Aside from its bold new look front and rear, the IS carries forward a lot of the ideas seen in other newer Lexus models, namely the GS Hidden beneath the IS' sheetmetal is the multilink rear suspension from the GS, along with its electric power steering setup. The new IS rides atop a 76 mm (three-inch) longer wheelbase for better seat room, but during our brief time sitting in the car at the press conference melee, it still didn't feel terribly roomy (it rarely does in this class). At least the rear seatbacks fold 60/40 for the first time for additional utility.
Executives promise that the Fuji Speedway- and Nurburgring tuned IS350 will make in excess of 300 horsepower. More detailed specifications have yet to be released, but performance figures to be formidable, especially now that the IS receives the eight-speed automatic borrowed from the existing IS F complete with full torque converter lockup for crisp shifts and manual mode throttle blipping. In addition, F Sport models like the white showcar above includes recalibrated suspension and electric power steering settings to go along with their more aggressive visuals and interior trimmings.
The IS is scheduled to hit dealers in June, at which point you can all make up your minds about Lexus' new styling direction.
Related Gallery2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport - Live
Related Gallery2014 Lexus IS F Sport: Detroit 2013
All-New 2014 Lexus IS Sport Sedan Makes World Premiere at the North American International Auto Show
DETROIT (Jan. 15, 2013) – Lexus today unveiled the all-new 2014 IS sedan at the North American International Auto Show. IS will be available in rear- and all-weather drive versions of the IS 250 and IS 350, a further evolution of F SPORT available across the entire model range, and for Europe, Japan, and select international markets, the IS 300h, the first IS to feature Lexus Hybrid Drive.
Driving performance isakey selling point in the sport sedan segment. In conjunction with a bold new design including the Lexus spindle grille, the all-new IS has been painstakingly engineered to have excellent dynamic capabilities to provide an exceptionaldriving experience.
"I adopted an entirely different approach to the development of the all-new IS," said Junichi Furuyama, IS chief engineer. "Specifically, it was to make an entertaining driving experience a major premise behind all aspects of performance.
"The conventional approach involves developing each individual aspect in the hope that they will combine to offer an engaging driving experience. By contrast, development of the new IS flipped this process on its head, first establishing the pleasurable driving experience owners desire, and then developing the individual performance elements to support it."
Every aspect of the IS has been engineered with a renewed focus on engaging performance, agile handling, accurate response to driver input and highly communicative feedback.
"The IS has always been precise and fun to drive," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "The all-new IS kicks it up a notch with true sport sedan driving dynamics, state of the art onboard technologies, and an all-new design that makes it look fast even when it's standing still."
Incorporating several Lexus-first features and technical innovations, the IS showcases an interior design with all the refinement and quality expected of a Lexus, plus a focused driver's environment, a significant improvement in rear seat comfort and spaciousness, and a larger, more convenient trunk.
Rear- and all-weather drive versions of the IS 250 are powered by a 2.5 liter V6 gas engine. The IS 350 features a 3.5 liter V6 gas engine. The IS 300h, which will be available in Europe, Japan,and select international markets, will employ the Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain, based on a newly developed 2.5L Atkinson-cycle engine.
IS adopts the Drive Mode Select system which offers up to four switchable driving modes- ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SPORT S+ (S+ available on IS 350 only) - to optimize vehicle systems to suit the driver's preferred combination of fuel economy, comfort, performance and handling characteristics.
The IS 350 RWD features the eight-speed, Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission from the IS F high performance sedan with quicker shifts, full torque converter lockup and throttle blips in manual mode. The new IS is the first Lexus model to adopt G force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) control in Sport mode. This system automatically selects the optimal gear and downshift pattern in response to G force, and maintains the selected gear through a corner.
Driving enjoyment was at the heart of the new IS development program, and every aspect of the new Lexus sedan's driving dynamics has been carefully engineered to that end.
New, laser screw welding and adhesive body bonding techniques, along with additional spot welding, have increased overall body rigidity. This enhances stability and also allows for a more comfortable ride without compromising handling agility.
The double wishbone front suspension system has been revised, offering a twenty percent increase in sway rigidity. The rear adopts a new multi-link suspension system from the GS. Fine tuning has resulted in outstanding grip performance and excellent response to steering inputs. Separate mounting of the spring and shock absorber maximizes trunk space.
Steering feel and feedback is key to an enjoyable driving experience, and the new IS benefits from a steering gear box based on that of the GS sedan, incorporating a variety of tuning techniques. The structure and rigidity of each gear box component has been revised to create a smoother and more accurate steering feel with enhanced input response and greater driver feedback.
IS F SPORT models not only benefit from exclusive, exterior and interior design features, but also genuine dynamic enhancements. Both the front and rear suspension systems and the Electric Power Steering (EPS) are exclusively tuned for F SPORT, enhancing handling performance. An Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) system is tuned for F SPORT models, while Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS) is also available on IS 350.
F SPORT models announce their presence with an exclusive spindle grille that incorporates a bolder insert design. The bottom corners of the front bumpers feature aerodynamic detailing to provide enhanced brake cooling. Unique 18-inch wheels feature a Y-spoke design inspired by the LFA.
On board, drivers will receive vehicle information from an innovative driver's meter cluster with a moving center ring, inspired by the LFA. Interior trim detailing includes an F SPORT steering wheel and shift knob, and aluminum pedals and scuff plates that include the Lexus logo.
The overall dynamic shape of the body emphasizes the wide flare of the wheel arches to give the new IS a broad, powerful stance.
In profile, the strong horizontal beltline shows off the large rear tires and its low center of gravity. The exterior design includes a new, powerfully articulated headlamp cluster design with Lexus' trademark,L-shaped Daytime Running Lights (DRL) located independently below.
The clean, horizontal theme of the interior is bisected by the strong upward sweep of the center console, creating an ergonomically ideal environment. The newly designed driver's seat offers greater comfort and better lateral support. Both the seat hip point and the angle of the new, LFA-inspired steering wheel have been lowered and steering reach adjustment has been increased, creating a driver focused seating position.
To better accommodate passengers, the new IS wheelbase is nearly three inches longer, providing a more comfortable cabin and increased trunk capacity. The extended wheelbase and a thinner front seat design results in three inches more knee room for rear passengers. New to the IS are standard, lockable 60:40 split/folding rear seats.
Refined materials throughout the cabin are complimented by a high quality analog clock with surface-emitting illumination. The climate control system incorporates Lexus-first electrostatic switches, which enable vehicle occupants to adjust temperature settings with the touch of a finger.
All IS models are equipped with the next generation, Lexus Display Audio or Remote Touch-controlled Navigation multimedia systems. Both multimedia systems provide industry-first complimentary real-time traffic and weather information delivered without a subscription through HD™ Radio Technology. The new steering wheel is the first on a Lexus to coordinate multimedia system control with both the meter cluster and center console displays.
The 2014 IS has 10 airbags standard, including rear seat side airbags. Available safety and security features include an Automatic High Beam (AHB) headlamp system, a Lane Departure Alert (LDA) system, a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and a Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system.
The AHB headlamp system maximizes visibility at night by automatically switching to low beams when its camera detects the lights of either an oncoming or preceding vehicle.
An LDA system helps prevent unintended lane changes by alerting the driver when the vehicle deviates from its lane without the operation of the turn signal.
The BSM uses rear mounted radar to detect vehicles in adjacent lanes that are not visible in the outer door mirrors.
The RCTA system employs the BSM radar to alert the driver to approaching vehicles when backing out of a parking space.
The all-new Lexus IS will go on sale in mid-2013.
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