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Lexus LF-CC heralds next IS

"It's not the IS. It's a coupe. It definitely shows the design intent for Lexus".

Officially it's called the LF-CC - standing for Lexus Future Compact Coupe - but it has the same size and style as the all-new IS that will be in showrooms in 2013.

Not just that, but it packs an advanced new hybrid driveline that's also almost certain for production. Lexus is in the final stages of renewing its IS and going all out to give it more punch and personality to pick up buyers who would otherwise take a traditional trip to an Audi, BMW or Benz dealer.

The CC concept is intended to get them thinking about a Japanese alternative and also prove that Lexus is serious about a reinvention that's being driven by Toyota chief Akio Toyoda and began earlier this year with a new mid-sized GS sedan, complete with the 'spindle grille' nose that's the company's new front-end signature.

But the head of Lexus Australia warns about reading too much into the Paris tease, especially the car's two-door coupe body. "It's not the IS. It's a coupe. It definitely shows the design intent for Lexus," Tony Cram tells Carsguide. 

"It's about the same size as the IS, I can say that for sure, but it's not the IS. I think it's more of a pointer for the design direction for Lexus. It's a stunning car. "I think you'll find the IS is gorgeous, but this coupe is a concept and not a production car." 

Under the skin, the LF-CC is powered by a new hybrid drivetain that pairs a 2.5-litre petrol engine - using an Atkinson combustion cycle, with both direct and port fuel injection - linked to an electric motor. Lexus is keeping outputs secret until Paris, but everything points to around 147 kiloWatts with CO2 emissions of less than 100 grams/kilometre.

Lexus currently sells the IS as a four-door sedan and two-door convertible in Australia, with prices from $55,800 and $94,300, with the hotrod V8-powered IS-F at $126,300. It's likely the same lineup will continue, although there is an obvious opening for a coupe to rival the three German brands and to continue the Lexus commitment to two-door cars as image machines.

But, again, Cram is talking conservative on the IS program. "We haven't announced timing yet for he IS, but it's not far away. It will be sometime next year," he confirms. "The cars will be bolder. We're signalling that with our concept cars. "We've definitely got to be more bold and have our own look. You see cues in this concept car, but it's not the IS."