Tony O'Kane | May 9, 2008

Lexus's IS-F is without doubt the brand's performance flagship (at least until the LF-A arrives), but the presence of this taped-up prototype at the Nurburgring yesterday has already generated plenty of speculation on not only what this car is for, but also what level of performance lurks beneath its skin.

While it has an oddly-bulging bonnet, this is certainly no IS-F. The body shares its sheetmetal with the IS250/350 and if you watch the video at the link below you'll no doubt notice the complete absence of the IS-F's V8 growl. Instead, it's been replaced by something that sounds a little more pedestrian, like a V6. Even so, it still sounds rather muted, leading many to believe that a turbocharger or petrol-electric hybrid system has been installed under this car.

Currently, only the IS and the SC are the only cars in the Lexus lineup that don't have a hybrid version, and we've got no doubt that this is something that Lexus will be seeking to rectify. Whether this car is the development prototype for such a variant is not so certain, however - the interior is gutted and in its place is a pro-level Recaro race seat and a full roll cage. Intriguing. We'll keep you posted on this one.

UPDATE: Nothing to see here, folks.

Wow, talk about an anticlimax. It turns out this car was in fact a competitor in the ADAC endurance racing series and is nothing more than a - wait for it - IS250. Yup, that bonnet bulge was a decoy, as were the acres of black plastic sheeting, for underneath the bonnet of this car beats a standard 153kW 4GR-FSE V6. Why did they bother to cover up the car during what were presumably just practice laps before the main event? We may never know, but what we do know is that a close-to-standard IS250 is pretty slow around the 'Ring: with a fastest lap of 10:58, this Lexus certainly didn't set the circuit alight. Head over to Jalopnik to check out some pics of the TME/Team Gazoo IS250 in all its unmasked glory.

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[Source: Bridge To Gantry]

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