The Lexus IS is due for an update, and the sporty, premium-compact rear-driver’s been given a healthy dose of the attitude that Lexus has been injecting into the rest of the lineup.
At a glance, it’s still something of a conservative update, but the IS features a longer hood and squat rear proportions that lightly resemble the athletic BMW 1-Series. Lexus’ new pinch-cheeked “spindle” grille is here, and on the new IS350 F-Sport it’s at its most extravagant yet, a massive expanse of honeycombed blackout trim. The interior shows influence from the LF-A supercar, especially in the digital gauge cluster and electrostatic climate control interface. The three-inch longer wheelbase improves rear-seat room, and Lexus’ Enform infotainment system is included on cars with the navigation system.
2.5 liter and 3.5 liter V6 engines are available. The new direct-injection 3.5 V6 will have a horsepower rating somewhere north of 300, and an eight-speed automatic transmission borrowed from the ISF performance sedan. Laser screw welding and special bonding have increased the stiffness of the body, and the fully independent suspension (developed from the larger GS sedan) is tuned for better response, less wheel slip, and sharper steering.
Lexus has given the F Sport models of the IS a bit more distinction from the rest of the range, with upgraded suspension components and available variable-ratio steering to go with the visual enhancements. Unique eighteen-inch wheels are also part of the package.
The new IS goes on sale in June.