Let’s circle back to an AutoGuide story from last month regarding the next-generation IS:
“I have driven an early prototype and it’s amazing,” said Ketan Renade, Lexus product planner for the ES and LS sedans.
“On the IS we realized it needs to be more focused,” he continued, pointing out a unique advantage Lexus has in this area. While rivals have carefully balanced the hard-edge performance wants with luxury ride quality, “The IS doesn’t have to play a comfort role for us,” he continued. Instead, Lexus offers the ES350 (as well as the new ES300h) to suit that demand.
With competitors doing their best to balance comfort and performance in their entry level models, having the ES in the lineup does afford Lexus an opportunity to sharpen the performance of the IS — however, it’s worth noting that the sixth-generation ES is a much (much) larger car than the IS, and that additional size will not appeal to all customers looking for comfort.
(This quote also brings up another point — the IS is a global vehicle, whereas the ES is not. If Lexus is counting on the ES to balance out the next-generation IS, it will be interesting to see which non-traditional markets wil be getting the ES when the right-hand-drive variant debuts next year.)
One other quote from the AutoGuide article:
Speaking with other product planners over dinner at a launch event for the 2013 ES, they were surprised by the new Cadillac ATS, describing the styling as “conservative”, a strong hint that Lexus will go a more dramatic route. In fact, product planner Ben Mitchell confirmed that the dash of the 2014 IS will take inspiration from the brand’s LFA supercar.
Of all the models that should be sharing design cues with the LFA, the IS would be my first choice — hopefully it extends to the exterior as well.