Lexus pitches IS's sports sedan engineering
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DETROIT -- The redesigned 2014 Lexus IS sedan has had its driving dynamics significantly retuned for a sportier feel, even though much of the car, including its exterior styling, is carried over from its previous generation, the automaker said.
Lexus unveiled the IS lineup at the auto show here on Tuesday. It goes on sale in June.
The IS will be available in rear- and all-wheel drive versions of the IS 250 and IS 350. The F SPORT package will be available across the entire model range.
The IS 350 rear-drive version comes with an eight-speed sequential-shift gearbox. However, the IS 250 and both the IS 250 and IS 350 all-wheel drive versions come with a six-speed automatic.
U.S. sales of the IS line slipped 7 percent last year to 27,708.
Borrowed from GS
The front double-wishbone suspension has been tightened, with a 20 percent increase in sway rigidity. The rear multi-link suspension has been borrowed from the GS sedans -- which share a platform with the IS -- and allows for better responsiveness while improving trunk space.
With a stretched wheelbase, rear-seat room in the 2014 IS has been expanded by three inches.
The steering gearing has also been borrowed from the GS, which showed much quicker input response when introduced last year.
The 2014 IS will include "Eco," "Normal" and "Sport" driving modes, where "Sport" actually creates dynamic change to the driving experience, and not just an RPM boost of gearshift points.
Lexus also said an IS 300h hybrid version will be built, but it will be sold in Japan, Europe and other markets -- and not in the U.S. market.
The IS 300h hybrid model will emit 100 g/km of CO2, and average 4.3 l/100km, or 54 mpg, in the European test cycle.
The IS 300h hybrid shares an an engine block with the ES hybrid, but the cylinder head is different in that it is direct injection instead of just port injection.
As for the F Sport models, the electric power steering and suspensions are tuned specifically for those models, and receive an adaptive variable suspension and 18-inch wheels. The IS 350 F Sport receives variable gear ratio steering.
Similar design to current IS
Aside from the spindle grille found on all Lexus vehicles these days, the redesigned IS shares a strikingly similar stance, silhouette, beltline, greenhouse and overall language with its predecessor.
But upon closer inspection, there are some key differences. The headlights and taillights sweep more forcefully away to the flanks of the car, and the subliminal language of the lamps is more of a scowl than a squint.
The shoulder creases are crisper, and continue to rise into the rear deck after the C-pillar, rather than tapering toward the finish. The base of the rear door cut sweeps upward before the rear wheel arch, rather than intersecting with it.
Inside, rather than rehashing the existing interior styling, Lexus borrowed the instrument panel cluster, center stack and console that it introduced last year with the ES and GS sedans.
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