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Lexus IS350 adds sport to range

Lexus will unveiling the local IS350 at the Australian International Motor Show in October.

The punchy IS 350 finally joins the local line, Lexus is bringing the F-Sport sub-brand to Australian showrooms, and there are improvements to everything from safety to economy and emissions.

There is unlikely to be any price hike despite the changes, although Lexus refuses to discuss showroom stickers ahead of the local IS unveiling at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney.

"It's a true facelift. It's not just a tickle," says Peter Evans, the new corporate manager for marketing and aftersales at Lexus Australia. It's suspension, it's daytime running lamps, it's the dashboard, its a whole bunch of stuff. And we'll have a range of IS 350 models, as well as the launch of F-Sport. We're planning to price it competitively against its competitors."

But there is no diesel for the Lexus IS, as Toyota's luxury brand continues its commitment to hybrid cars in Australia. There is a diesel in Australia but Lexus will soon have the CT200h for Australia and Japanese sources point to a full hybrid in the next generation of the IS in around four years.

The importance of the IS update is reflected in its position in Australia.

"It's our key model for Australia. Ultimately there are three cars that should drive the brand, and this is number one," says Evans. "The car is doing well. We're happy with the IS but the one we're having more trouble convincing people to consider is the RX."

European information on the IS upgrade points to cleaner engines which meet the latest Euro 5 emissions standards, with better efficiency and reduced emissions for the IS 250 automatic and IS 250 coupe-convertible.

Exterior changes run to LED daytime running lamps in the nose, a new grille, new rear lamps and new alloy wheel designs. The F-Sport model picks up more of the impact of the V8-powered IS F, with a deep front spoiler, 18-inch alloys, and a big rear spoiler.

Inside, there is a sports steering wheel with leather-and-alcantara trim.