Want a sneak peak at the all-new Lexus IS sedan that’s supposed to launch next year? You’re in luck: the Lexus LF-CC concept, which debuts next week at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, is essentially just that.
Technically, Lexus claims the LF-CC concept hints at a “near-future D-segment” model, but that’s essentially an outright confirmation it’s a first stab at the new IS. Not only have we heard the IS would be completely worked over for the 2013 model year, it’s also one of the few Lexus passenger car models to have gone without a substantial overhaul in recent years.
Like many Lexus production and show cars before it (notably the 2013 GS and the LF-Lc concept), the LF-CC’s exterior form abides by the automaker’s L-finesse design language, which emphasizes contours, clean lines, and blending near-contradictory design theme. On the CC, this mantra is taken to a new extreme. The now-traditional spindle grille appears yet again, but utterly dominates the front fascia. Fenders and headlamps are pinched together as they taper towards the upper edges of the grille. The lower portion of the front fascia curves inwards, and is interrupted only by the razor-sharp front fenders.
Although the LF-CC’s side surfaces, especially near the doors, are rather calm, the rear fascia is as sculpted as the front. Character lines, which start at the rocker sills just aft of the doors, sweep up and through the wheel arches and ultimately carry into the lower edges of the long, slender, triangular tail lamp housings. Meanwhile, the slender roofline gracefully curves down into an upper line that ends atop those same lights, bisecting the trunk and forming a very Chris Bangle-esque chamfered decklid.
The LF-CC doesn’t scream “hybrid,” but that’s exactly what’s powering the show car. Lexus says the concept utilizes the typical Lexus/Toyota hybrid drive system (i.e. an electrically-variable transmission along with two motors, one of which is tasked with driving the wheels), but the engine is slightly different from what we’ve seen before: it’s a 2.5-liter, direct-injection I-4 running on the Atkinson cycle. We’ve heard it’s due to reach production and the next IS, though Lexus will almost certainly continue to offer larger, more powerful engines – perhaps a slightly refreshed version of the present IS350’s 3.5-liter V-6 -- in the IS range.
We’re sure some of these touches – notably the intricate 20-inch wheels, and the deeply-sunk front fascia – will be toned down before production, but the LF-CC makes it blatantly obvious Lexus wants – at long last – to inject emotion into the IS' shape. Is it distinctive? Certainly. Will it win over the IS customer base? Only time will tell.