The 2012 Mondial de l’Automobile—aka Paris Auto Show—opens on the last weekend in September with this expo’s usual slew of major introductions. Among them is a preview of the next-generation Lexus IS premium-compact car. It takes the form of a concept coupe called LF-CC for, er, “Lexus Future-Concept Coupe.” Toyota’s luxury brand has also used LF as shorthand for its evolving “L-Finesse” design language, and styling is indeed the main motivation for this show car. It’s meant as another example of how Lexus is transforming its overall design approach from bland to bold per CEO Akio Toyoda’s push for more eye appeal and dynamic ability in everything his company builds.
Meantime, sources report the production IS sedan is finished and ready to launch next spring as an early 2014 model. According to trade weekly Automotive News, it uses a shortened version of the redesigned platform from Lexus’ 2013 GS premium-midsize sedan and will start U.S. sale with mildly updated iterations of today’s 2.5- and 3.5-liter V6 engines. A new edition of the 5.0-liter V8 IS F should be added in due course. Though the Paris concept is a gas/electric hybrid with a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, Car and Driver reports that powertrain is not destined for the U.S., although a turbocharged version of that engine might be offered here, doubtless in lieu of the smaller V6.
C/D also suggests that the next-gen IS may not reprise its slow-selling retractable-hardtop body style. Instead, Lexus might opt for separate coupe and cloth-top convertible models, perhaps positioned upstream of equivalent sedans and given a different name a la Audi A4/A5 and BMW 3-Series/4-Series. We’ll see.
Rear drive will remain standard across this board, with all-wheel drive optional for most models—maybe all, if Lexus decides to extend it to the IS F. Look for the current F’s 8-speed automatic to replace a 6-speed unit on lesser ISes. We see little chance for a manual transmission in this line (or any Lexus, for that matter), but we could be wrong, as Lexus doubtless appreciates the extra enthusiast credibility that attaches to overtly sporty upscale cars with an available DIY transmission. If not that, then perhaps a dual-clutch automated manual, even though Toyota/Lexus/Scion has so far shown zero interest in that type of transmission.
As usual with concepts, the LF-CC design is expected to be toned down for the production 2014 Lexus IS. The big “spindle” grille, Lexus’ newly adopted key brand identifier, will carry over in muted form, but some of the concept’s Wolverine cuts and slashes will disappear. So, too, will its fanciful triangular door mirrors and perhaps some of the various L-shape graphic details. Most other elements should survive, though, if only because they reinforce new-Lexus themes from the LFA supercar and the LF-LC concept (a star at this year’s Detroit show and being tipped for production with few stylistic changes). The interior will likewise get a reality check, though the bi-level center-dashboard/console info-display strategy will likely be preserved, along with a configurable gauge cluster.
That’s all we have for now, but keep checking back with The Daily Drive for more information as it becomes available. Also check Consumer Guide Auto’s main site for in-depth Future Car reports on other upcoming new cars and trucks.