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All-new Lexus IS to debut in Detroit; what should we expect?

The sporty Lexus IS is getting the "all-new" treatment with a third-generation redesign inspired by the LF-CC concept and LFA halo car.

Lexus LF-CC
Wayne Cunningham/CNET
Lexus LF-CC
The next-generation Lexus IS will feature design cues debuted on the LF-CC concept. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Lexus has announced that it will be pulling the wraps off of the all-new IS at the 2013 North American International Auto Show--better known to those of us car guys and gals as the Detroit Auto Show. The automaker has stated that the new model "has been completely redesigned, inside and out" and will be inspired by the LF-CC Coupe Concept (which we saw make its own debut at the 2012 Paris Auto Show) and the brand's LFA halo car.

Lexus LF-CC
Does this mean that the third-generation IS will be offered as a coupe? Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Beyond that, the automaker hasn't said anything else about the new IS. So, exactly what should we expect to see on January 15?

  • Let's start with the simple stuff. Don't expect many changes in the power-train department. The new Lexus IS will definitely retain its RWD configuration and optional AWD. It will also still likely be powered by the same 306 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that currently powers the 2013 Lexus GS 350. Lexus may get creative with the lower powered version of the IS. Will we see a hybrid option, a four-cylinder engine, or will Lexus stick with the 2.5-liter V-6?

  • The next Lexus IS will likely still be offered in sedan and convertible form factors, but the LF-CC that it draws inspiration from is a coupe concept. Will we see an IS Coupe in the third-generation? 

  • Expect to see a copy-and-paste of the current Lexus cabin tech packaging that we've seen in the GS and LS with a basic display audio package at the entry point and building to a premium HDD-based Lexus Enform (a rebranding and redesign of Toyota Entune) at the top of the tech heap. Mark Levinson audio option? It wouldn't be a Lexus without it.

  • The IS is the Lexus model that birthed the automaker's F-Sport performance brand, so expect to hear about an IS 350 F-Sport package that features a hotted-up suspension setup, more aggressive aerodynamic elements and wheels, and interior styling upgrades. I'm expecting all of the GS 350 F-Sport's go-faster goodies for the IS, including an adaptive suspension, an S+ performance mode selector, and bigger brakes.

  • Will we see the mighty, but oft-overlooked IS-F make an appearance? It's unlikely, but we'll be keeping our eyes peeled when we hit the ground at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show in January.