2014 Lexus IS bows at Detroit with an unattainable hybrid

Aki Sugawara

Hybrids have long been a cornerstone of Toyota Motor Corp., and when Lexus unveiled the 2014 Lexus IS 300h hybrid alongside the IS Sport, the company revealed that the former will only see a Europe and Japan release; the regular gasoline version goes on sale this June.

It's a shame, because between the two versions the hybrid has the more traditional — and attractive — face of the two. But seeing the mixed reaction amongst attendees, they're both polarizing. Taking the front end and its Predator-alien-like spindle grill to a new level, Lexus adopts an unconventional, two-tiered headlight design with LEDs reminiscent of a football player's eye black grease. It contrasts to the clean and spartan rear and the upright greenhouse from the side, which sees a sharper C-pillar kink. Inside, the design language is similar to the GS, with the horizontal lines giving a sense of width to the car. Interior finish though leaves something to be desired due to Lexus using the same dark, fake metal accents, and cheap plastics that creep into the center console.

Performance details are sparse, but the IS 350 will feature a 3.5-liter V-6 making over 300 hp. The hybrid powertrain will deliver a fuel economy of 4.3L/100km, which translated to miles per gallon would approximate to 55 mpg. Lexus thinks its front-wheel drive hybrid offerings — the CT hybrid and the ES 300h — will be sufficient for the U.S. market, but may bring the IS 300h hybrid over if there's enough demand. A hybrid from Toyota that can actually get enthusiasts excited? I say bring it.