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NEW York International Auto Show: Lexus concept car hints at IS future

LEXUS will expand its range of compact executive cars with bolder designs and new body styles on the next generation IS model due in 2006, a concept car unveiled in New York is hinting.

The coupe-convertible concept, called LF-C, is the third vehicle in a range of designs shown at motor shows over the last 12 months. Lexus says the car gives a clear hint at the next generation IS range which will be expanded to provide more of a challenge to the BMW 3-series.

Lexus vice-president Denny Clements said: 'It's no secret that the IS competes head-to-head with the BMW 3-series. However, fielding a four-door sedan and a Sportcross wagon against 15 separate 3-series variants in North America has proved to be quite a challenge.

'For the next IS to be a true force in the luxury performance arena, it will need to offer more models, more performance and, most importantly, more style.'

Clements added that the LF-C sports coupe concept's design team in California was asked to ignore the mainstream styling of direct rivals and focus on the theme of 'aspirational sport'.

He described the concept as 'a strong hint to the direction of the next generation Lexus IS'.

The folding hard roof on the concept car offers a full convertible mode as well as a 'targa' style with just the roof panel folded.

The new IS will go on sale about six months after the next generation GS saloon, which will arrive in the UK during 2005, so the new range inspired by the LF-C concept should arrive in 2006.

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