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Finally, Lexus has realised that car design isn’t a matter of pleasing everyone all the time. That philosophy usually makes things boring. At the Paris show the company is unveiling a concept for next year’s IS coupe, and the designers realise we won’t all like it. But they hope some of us will fall for it in a big way.

At the mouth is a gaping clinched-waist ‘spindle’ grille. Pretty well every line on the car evolves from there. The wide front wheel-arches, the proportions of the roof and the weight of metal over the rear wheels are all designed to show off the fact it’s rear-drive.

It’s hard to talk about visual design without coming over a bit pretentious, but here we go. Lexus calls its design L-Finesse, and it’s all about contrast: sharp angles against curves, plane surfaces against busy details. It evokes the juxtapositions of Japanese life, where you get bleeping high-tech set against gentle traditions: Tokyo neon versus zen gardens.

At the rear, the lamp clusters peep out from narrow slits in the bodywork. At the other end, the headlamps are triple arrays of high-intensity LEDS, each sitting in a finned aluminium heat-sink. Those lamps are a lovely detail, but the designers admit they’re near-impossible to produce. And they’d be just as hard to clean, given they’re naked of any cover.

The interior though is more realistic - the concept’s seats and door inners look like they were hauled off a production line and re-trimmed. Ahead of the driver, the screen-based instrument cluster is a lot like what’s in the LFA. Which is a good thing.

Under the bonnet, there’s a new 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with hybrid transmission. Lexus says it’s good for 200bhp in total and yet slips under 100g/km CO2. That’s uncommon efficiency.
The 2013 IS series - saloon and coupe - would also get diesel and six-cylinder power. And if you think the front bumper of this concept is a bit extreme for a fuel-sipping hybrid, remember they haven’t ruled out a new IS-F.

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