Toyota's luxury brand Lexus is launching its fully redesigned second generation IS model at the Geneva motor show on Tuesday. The new car line will be the first Lexus to offer a diesel engine, something that European dealers, in particular, have been crying out for.

Those dealers have been attempting to sell the IS series against the likes of Audi's A4, Mercedes' C-class and BMW's class-leading 3-series (itself just redesigned), all of which offer buyers a choice of state of the art, four-, five- or six-cylinder turbodiesels.

Those expecting a silky smooth, six-cylinder Lexus turbodiesel to rival the superb BMW three-litre straight six, Audi's V6 line or the expected Mercedes V6, might be a little disappointed at Lexus' first offering - it's an all-aluminium 2.2-litre four claimed to be the most powerful in its class, producing 175bhp, and with claimed class-leading torque of 400Nm from 2,000 to 2,400rpm

"Power, smoothness and refinement of operation meet Lexus's exceptional standards," the company said in a statement.

The new IS also has a new direct-injection 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine with the option of six-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shift gear change.

Safety equipment includes 10 airbags as standard, including a first-in-segment double knee airbag - parent Toyota pioneered knee airbags in the European D segment with its latest UK-built Avensis launched a couple of years ago.

Other technology new to the IS includes a radar-controlled pre-crash safety system (PCS), adaptive cruise control (ACC) and intelligent adaptive front lighting system (I-AFS) as either standard or optional.

Performance, traction control and vehicle stability are said to be further enhanced by Lexus's vehicle dynamics integrated management system (VDIM).

The new generation IS goes on sale in Europe at the end of 2005.

However, prolonging the agony for those dealers desperate to sell diesels, the oil burning versions won't be available until 2006.