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Car Torque: Silently sporting Lexus

MOTORING

A petrol-electric hybrid model will join the ranks of the new Lexus IS lineup when it arrives in New Zealand mid-year.

The IS300h will join the IS250 and IS350 models from launch and marks the first time that a hybrid powertrain has been offered for the IS.

In Europe, the car was previously available with a diesel; but no more, with the so-called Lexus Hybrid Drive now the only alternative to conventional petrol power for the car worldwide.

The new IS picks up Lexus’ new corporate styling template, centred on an aggressive grille design and, like the larger GS, will be available in F Sport versions with different styling detail and modified suspension.

All IS models will feature the Drive Mode Select system from the GS and LS sedans, while the F Sport versions also pick up a “driver’s meter” instrument panel similar to that used in the maker’s LFA supercar.

Volvo recovers from crash

The Volvo V40 was the standout performer in the most recent round of Australian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) crash testing, scoring the maximum five stars and 36.67 points out of a possible 37.

The V40 came very close to crash-test perfection but it isn’t the highest-scoring car under the ANCAP regime. That honour still belongs to the Mercedes-Benz B-class, with five stars and 36.78 points.

Tested in the same ANCAP round as the Volvo V40 was the latest Subaru Forester. It was also awarded five stars and a score of 35.64.

The four crash tests used by ANCAP are identical to those in the European NCAP (indeed, ANCAP often carries over individual scores from its European parent programme).

However, overall scores are different between the two because EuroNCAP carries out extra testing, including child protection and whiplash.

For example, in EuroNCAP the V40 is rated just ahead of the B Class: 35 points/98% versus 35 points/97%.

New coupe from Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has confirmed it will launch another new model at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The car will revive the Wraith name, first used by the marque in 1938.

Wraith will be a two-door version of the Ghost sedan, riding on a shorter wheelbase and with a lower roofline. Rolls-Royce claims the new car will be the most powerful and dynamic model it has ever built.

What the company hasn’t done is release any images of the new car – yet. Expect a series of teaser photographs closer to the car’s official unveiling on March 5.

Record sales by year

Rolls-Royce achieved record sales in 2012, with 3575 cars delivered, the highest number in the marque’s 108-year history.

The regions with the highest growth were the Middle East (26%), Europe (21%) and Asia-Pacific (18%).

The US has overtaken China as the No 1 single market. This year also marks 10 years since Rolls-Royce started manufacturing a new generation of cars under BMW ownership.

In 2003, it opened its Goodwood plant in the UK and began production of the all-new Phantom.

More by David Linklater