M3 and CLK55 AMG fighter

M3 and CLK55 AMG fighter

At the Geneva Motor Show 2005 Toyota debuted with the replacement for the Lexus IS compact sedan. Now the Japanese car maker is working on a high performance coupe version, according to rumours dubbed IS 500. Most likely it is powered by a 4.3 litre V8 32 valve engine delivery approximately 300 HP. This car is set to become a rival against models like BMW M3 and Mercedes CLK 55 AMG.

Toyota sells a huge range of cars in Japan from small economy models to high-end luxury sedans. But only lately has it introduced the Lexus name in the Japanese home market where even luxury cars have previously carried the Toyota name. As part of the new brand's introduction, the company is coming out with a wide range of new models over the next few years to carry the Lexus name both at home and abroad. Recent new Lexus models have shown the company's direction towards high performance while still offering high levels of luxury.

The test vehicle in the photos is an early prototype built using the production body panels of a current Japanese market model, the Toyota Crown Royal. Note that the car has right-hand drive, typical of vehicles sold in Japan. The Crown Royal makes a perfect mule for development of a high-performance model since it already has a V8 engine and offers a choice of rear or all wheel drive, so all these vital powertrain pieces fit easily. Next the body was shortened, bringing it down to the length of its future coupe configuration. Note the section just behind the car's B-pillar, in which several inches of length were cut out of the rear doors and the roof. Shortening the car's platform down to the length of the final car allows high-performance driving tests to be done with the car's correct wheelbase and weight distribution.

Also note the numerous modifications that indicate high-performance nature of the future model, including the quad exhaust pipes, rear deck spoiler and the sporty alloy wheels shod with very low-profile tires.

Since a complete real prototype of the new IS 500 Coupe has not yet been photographed, below is a computer generated image suggesting how the new model could look like upon its release latest in two years time from now.

Gallery: High-Performance Lexus IS 500 Coupe