Lexus just put a lot of pressure on the 2006 IS sedan to perform well in the marketplace by telling Ward's Auto that it expects sales of the redesigned sport sedan to jump from 12,000/year to well over 40,000/year. It's a lofty goal especially considering that sales of the current IS are down about 52% compared with last year. Edmunds has already posted a First Drive of the new models and appears to be impressed. The car will come in IS250, IS250 with all-wheel drive and IS350 variants. The two engines available will be Toyota's all-aluminum 2.5L V6 rated at 204 hp/185 lb-ft of torque and 3.5L V6 rated at 305 hp/277 lb-ft of torque.

The styling seems to be much tighter than the recently remodelled GS, which can appear a bit bloated and overweight. The new IS, on the other hand, looks trim and lithe, kind of like a cross between the smooth lines of a G35 and the tautness of an Acura. We?ll see if this new Lexus can fulfill its makers? prophecy when it steps into the ring for Round 2 with the new BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Infiniti G35 (among others) this fall.

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