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Auto blogFri, 08 Nov 2013 11:57:00 EST
"Ooh, this looks fun!" my otherwise car-ignorant friend said as we walked up to the 2014 Lexus IS 250 F Sport. And yeah, it does look fun. In fact, despite my initial strong negative reaction to the design, I've really warmed up to this new IS, especially with the flashier F Sport package found on this test car (unique front fascia, 18-inch dark alloy wheels and appropriate badging). Even though that rear end still looks a bit Droopy Dog to me (stop frowning, Lexus), the IS is sharp, though I'm not entirely sure that such a bold design will age well.
"Looks can be deceiving," I told my friend, and we hit the road... slowly. You see, despite looking like a fresh, modern sport sedan, the IS 250 still uses what is, quite frankly, a dog of an engine. And that, combined with dynamics that are just so-so at best, makes for a sedan that's all show and no go. Say hello to Jennifer Slowpez.
Lexus is tag-teaming back into the hardcore coupe ring with this, the red rum RC 300h that's jumping off the top rope to "[inject] emotional appeal into the Lexus DNA." It's the hybrid version of the twin, powered by a 2.5-liter V6 aided by a 105-kW electric motor, the pair putting out 217 total horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque through a continuously variable transmission. The RC's other, more conventional half will come with a 3.5-liter V6 with 314 hp and 380 lb-ft shifted with an eight-speed sequential transmission.
The brand doesn't want you to take this RC Coupe for a two-door version of the IS. It's based on the GS platform but its dimensions are unique, being wider, lower and shorter in wheelbase than the IS. Concept-car headlights flank the most extreme version of the spindle grille yet seen on a production car, and the lighting novelty continuing in the cabin with illumination that is aimed up instead of down. The package will ride on either 18- or 19-inch wheels.
The "high contrast," dual-zone cabin is graced with shimamoku wood and Lexus' Remote Touch Interface, and Lexus says the seats have been conceived via an "integrated foaming construction method" like racing seats - we think they look spectacular stitched up in this carmel-colored leather.
While wandering the floor at this week's LA Auto Show, we had a bit of an epiphany at the Lexus stand. The traditionally stodgy Toyota premium outlet is really starting to come into its own in terms of exciting design. And not just with production models like the excellent new GS sedan. At the front of the display, a triangular formation of plinths was a feast for the eyes - the head was formed by the LFA Nurburgring Package supercar, flanked on either side by the company's outré LF-LC and LF-CC concept cars.
So consider it welcome news on our end that the LF-CC concept shown above has apparently been given the production green light, with a projected arrival by 2015. So says Autocar, which quotes an unnamed source at Lexus willing to confirm that a senior engineer has been tasked with the project. The British publication suggests that the production version of the 2012 Paris Motor Show star will probably be built in both coupe and convertible formats and ride atop the automaker's new modular rear-wheel drive architecture. Power is expected to be an evolution of the GS 350h's hybrid drivetrain.
In other news, that same shadowy source at Lexus has reportedly confirmed that the Japanese luxury brand is "seriously studying" offering a small SUV in the mold of the stylish Range Rover Evoque from Land Rover, though no further details are given. Lexus' own RX crossover range has long been a massive hit for the brand, leaving many industry analysts scratching their heads as to why the automaker hasn't already expanded its crossover offerings to include both larger and smaller formats.