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New Lexus IS delivers leading driving dynamics - Toyota

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Bred at a new and purpose-built test track in Japan, the 2021 Lexus IS represents the very best of high performance luxury sports sedans.

Lexus engineers focused on the driving dynamics and improving driving performance for the 2021 Lexus IS while the designers reworked the overall profile of the car to create a suave, sports sedan that is set back on its broad haunches with wider tyres ready to be launched.

Lexus New Zealand General Manager Andrew Davis says the new IS matches its design upgrade with significant handling improvements, which were developed at a new technical centre in Shimoyama, Japan. The new Shimoyama track is modelled on Germany’s Nürburgring, a track that is famous for its length and gruelling driving conditions.

"Beneath the skin, this is a true enthusiast’s car. It was the first Lexus developed at the new Shimoyama Technical Centre and represents Lexus’ high level of passionate performance," Andrew says.

The Lexus philosophy of continuously improving meant no stone was left unturned. Countless test hours at the Shimoyama track and other test facilities were conducted on various road surfaces and conditions to identify ways to increase responsiveness and reduce unnecessary movement from unsprung mass.

"Converting performance into passion is a guiding philosophy for the brand and is what the Lexus Driving signature is about. You can’t help but have a smile on your face when you drive this car," he says.

There are seven variants available, the entry grade IS 300 and IS 300h; the performance charged IS 300, IS 300h and IS 350 F Sport grade; and the IS 300 and IS 300h Limited grade.

The overall profile of the 2021 IS follows that of a classic coupe, with sloping rear pillars, a long bonnet and short boot. Add in larger wheels - up an inch for all variants - and the overall impression is more aggression and sports performance.

As well as the exterior design revisions, the Lexus IS receives a raft of technical changes. The flagship IS 350 F Sport will also be further differentiated from the IS range with several unique enhancements.

The 2021 line-up for the new IS delivers a new level of luxury as standard in addition to a core focus on brave design, imaginative technology and leading driving dynamics.

The focus on testing at Shimoyama was to create within the IS a "Lexus Driving Signature", which is faithful to a driver’s intentions, providing a seamless transition from braking to steering and acceleration through corners.

By establishing a uniform Lexus Driving Signature across the entire line-up, the intention is to continue propelling the brand’s evolution as a luxury brand combined with dynamic driving performance.

The bold new exterior styling of the 2021 IS not only aims for a provocative design, but its athletic silhouette also signifies the agile changes that have taken place under the sheet metal.

At the front, a newly designed spindle grille features a three-dimensional polyhedral structure. New slender headlights are fitted on the IS that feature daytime running lights with a sharp, arrow-like signature that runs laterally across the newly developed compact and lightweight light units. Eyes will also be drawn to the L-shaped blade-style lightbar that spans the rear of the vehicle.

Seven IS variants will be available, including a return, due to customer demand, of the IS 300h F Sport. The IS 300 has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission, producing 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque.

The IS 300h delivers the innovative Lexus self-charging hybrid electric system combining a 221Nm 2.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine and 300Nm electric motor. It achieves a total system output of 164kW and combined fuel consumption as low as 5.1 litres per 100 kilometres.

Both the IS 300 and IS 300h are available as a standard model, in F Sport specification or as a Limited variant, which has 19" alloy wheels, black ink woodgrain interior ornamentation, and a 17 speaker, 7.1 channel Mark Levinson audio system with a new amplifier delivering 1,500 watts of power.

For drivers who crave power there is the IS 350 F Sport. As well as featuring the only 3.5-litre normally aspirated V6 engine (232kW and 380Nm) in the range, the IS 350 F Sport has a rear Torsen® Limited Slip Differential, silver woodgrain interior ornamentation, and unique BBS matte black 19" alloy wheels. There should be no question about acceleration of the 350 F Sport as it moves from 0 to 100km/h in 5.9 seconds.

The F Sport variants have a piano-black rear spoiler, while the Limited and F Sport variants have a rear sunshade.

Other features that become standard on the Lexus IS for the first time include an electric park brake (replacing a foot-operated pedal), new 10.3-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, and upgraded driver assist technology.

A number of safety features have been added to the Lexus Safety System+ package. These include Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, Intersection Turn Assist, Emergency Steering Assist, All Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, and the Pre-Collision System now has bicycle detection. Parking Support Brake with Rear Cross Traffic Auto Brake has been added across the range with Blind Spot Monitor now available on entry variants and a Panoramic View Monitor on Limited grades.

Buyers of the IS 300 and IS 300h, F Sport and Limited will be entertained by a number of interior and exterior options. Three exclusive exterior colours will be available to the F Sport - Cobalt Blue, Infrared and White Nova.

Other colours available to all variants are Titanium, Sonic Shade, Sonic Iridium, and Graphite Black. Sonic Quartz, Burgundy, and Celestial Blue are not available on F Sport.

There are a range of interior options, with either Nulux on the entry variants or leather accented upholstery on the F Sport and Limited variants, enhanced by four trim styles. Leather colours range from Black (all variants), to Flare Red (all F Sport variants), White (IS 300, IS 300h F Sport only), to Dark Rose and Ochre (IS 300, IS 300h and Limited).

Entry models have new 18" alloy wheels while F Sport and Limited grades receive 19" alloy wheels. The IS 350 F Sport has unique 19" BBS matte black forged alloys.

Pricing for the 2021 Lexus IS:

IS300 2.0L Petrol Turbo sedan 8AT $70,900

IS300 2.0L Petrol Turbo sedan F Sport 8AT $80,500

IS300 2.0L Petrol Turbo sedan Limited 8AT $83,000

IS300h 2.5L Hybrid-electric sedan ECVT $76,200

IS300h 2.5L Hybrid-electric sedan F Sport ECVT $85,800

IS300h 2.5L Hybrid-electric sedan Limited ECVT $88,300

IS350 3.5L V6 sedan F Sport 8AT $101,800

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