The 2014 Lexus IS compact luxury sedan isn’t supposed to see the light of day until next week’s Detroit Auto Show, but that didn’t stop Lexus from showing it off in a few photos. Predictably, the new IS shares many styling cues with the LF-CC concept and GS sedan. Straight gasoline and hybrid versions of this car will take the fight to the BMW 3 Series later this year.
The most obvious change is the addition of Lexus trademark spindle grille. On the IS, it’s attached to a much busier front end, with LED slashes that are completely separate from the headlights, and front air intakes that have their own air intakes.
As with the LF-CC, there’s a line that curves up from the rocker sills to meet the taillights. The lights themselves have a lot in common with the LF-CC’s, including the “L”-shaped lighting elements that are becoming a recurring theme on Lexus concept cars.
The interior has the same mechanistic feel as the bigger GS’ interior, making it look more like a piece of tech and less like someone’s living room. This F-Sport model gets the digital “driver’s meter” instrument display, including a digital tachometer, from the LFA supercar. It’s a cool touch that should also inspire a few delusions of motoring grandeur.
The F-Sport model shown here is the sportiest IS, although it is not meant to take on anything from BMW M or Mercedes AMG. Other models will probably get a less aggressive front end and wheel and tire package. They also won’t get this car’s red interior trim.
We’ll have to wait for the IS’ Detroit unveiling to see what specific performance tweaks separate the F-Sport from the other models. Lexus did say that the current IS 250 and IS 350 model designations will remain, so the 3.5-liter and 2.5-liter V6s that power both models could remain as well. The F-Sport will be available with both engines.
There will also be an IS 300h hybrid, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it used the powertrain from the ES 300h. That means a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle inline-four and two electric motors. The LF-CC concept featured a similar 2.5-liter engine and a single, water-cooled electric motor.
Lexus has been trying to reinvent itself with a more vivacious image and, at the very least, the new IS won’t be mistaken with the previous model. We’ve seen what the new Lexus look does to this sedan, but will have to wait for next week’s unveiling to see how it stacks up against the competition.