2021 Lexus IS sedan gets sportier: What’s new in the BMW 3 Series rival

Lexus has given the IS sedan another facelift and some other tweaks to take on the fight to its rivals, specifically the BMW 3 Series. While the changes on the outside and the engine lineup is familiar, Lexus has gone to work to refine the IS even further to be sportier than before.

By:Published: June 16, 2020 5:53 PM

As a rival to the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and the Volvo S60, Toyota’s luxury brand, internationally sells a sedan called the Lexus IS. The Lexus IS is a 20 years old, model but the current generation has been on sale since 2013. Lexus has just released a heavily modified version of the same vehicle, which on the face of it looks quite similar to the one it replaces. The Lexus IS uses the same platform as before, and not the Toyota New Global Architecture-Luxury platform. Despite being a second facelift, the mid-life cycle update to the sedan is extensive and Lexus has gone to town to make the IS a more driver-focused car. The Lexus IS gets a new revised look, all the latest technology and more importantly, revised suspension set-up which is one of the key components, Lexus claims to have made the IS more sporty.

At the front is the Lexus signature spindle grille, but with a revised 3D design. The headlamps are lower and are now larger but moves away from the split headlamps/DRL design as before. The LED DRLs are now integrated into the headlamp housing which features a 3-beam set-up. In profile, the 2021 Lexus IS has been given a more sculpted aggressive shoulder line. The IS also gets a new set of wheels as the F-Sport model gets 19-inch wheels from BBS, while 18-inch wheels are standard. The rear features a brand new LED tail lamp, which in pure Lexus fashion features a sharp-edged look and runs across the width of the car.

Under the bonnet, the Lexus IS uses the same powertrain line up as before and all of them offer the same amount of power as before. The rear-wheel-drive IS 300 is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine which is good for 241hp. There is also an AWD version of the IS 300 that comes with a 3.5-litre V6 which develops 260hp. But the top of the line model is the IS 350 available in both rear and all-wheel-drive. This version comes with the same V6 engine but generates 311hp. The rear-wheel-drive models are equipped with an 8-speed automatic, while the AWD versions use a 6-speed automatic box.

The key upgrade on the Lexus IS is the new suspension setup. Using the same chassis as before, Lexus has given the sedan new coil springs that are 20% lighter, lighter A-arms, and a lighter stabiliser bar. There will also be an option of Dynamic handling package with adaptive suspension as well on offer for the IS 350 F-Sport. The cosmetic updates make the new IS longer, wider and shorter in height than its predecessor.

The cabin remains largely the same, but it does get a much needed new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system to welcome it into the 21st century. The higher-spec cars will get the option of a larger 10-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and are enabled with Amazon’s Alexa.

Lexus has not announced as yet if the IS is a model that could come to India. Currently, the only Lexus sedans on sale in India are the larger ES and the LS. While the new IS is a minor facelift, it is possible that Lexus would wait to introduce the all-new generation model in India which would most likely be introduced in the near future.

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