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FIRST LOOK: Lexus IS - due November 2005



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Lexus claims its new IS skips two generations compared with the existing model.

Executives say it has the interior quality of the LS and competes with BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-class, although it is noticeably larger. The new IS has longer wheelbase, stiffer body, and a more contemporary, dynamic look based on the L-Finesse concept. “You get a lot of car for the money,” says Lexus (GB) director Steve Settle.

The IS range, on UK sale in November, now starts with a 2.5-litre V6 developing 204bhp and 184lb ft instead of the 2.0-litre, a cleaner engine than the existing unit. It also features Lexus’ first diesel engine, an all-aluminium 2.2-litre 177bhp/295lb-ft common rail unit.

Both will increase the car’s appeal with fleets. The range will also include a 3.0-litre, while rumours abound of a 3.5-litre V6.

Retailers can expect to sell 7,000 next year when the diesel goes on sale, while in 2007 Lexus expects to top the 8,000 sold in the IS’s best year although it maintains a position of focusing on profits – its own and retailers – rather than purely pushing volume.

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