Lexus’ heavily refreshed and rather striking IS will go on sale in Australia on the 6th of November starting at $61,500 for the IS300. The new car boasts more technology and comfort features than any previous IS for only a modest price bump; a detailed price list appears at the end of this article.
That extra outlay nets a host of active safety tech like AEB with junction assist and day/night pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitor and lane-trace assist.
AEB with junction assist functionality marks a positive step over competitors, and towards a five-star ANCAP rating. Even among its premium peers, including the excellent BMW 3 Series and refreshed Audi A4, the IS is rare in offering these crucial assistance systems as standard.
But what you’re probably looking at is the exterior of this new IS, while it may look like an all-new car it sits on the same platform as before and is instead a heavily reworked facelift.
Still, the designers have done a great job differentiating this car from its forebear, most noticeably that broad front grille which very successfully anchors the IS to the ground, giving it a low, sporty stance.
The rear is attractive, too, with a bold boot-lid that adds to the coupe-appearance of the new IS, and to our eyes, the profile is remarkably similar to the svelte RC Coupe.
Lexus Australia Chief Executive Scott Thompson was keen to stress the reworked and more torsionally rigid chassis underpinning the new IS as well as the exterior styling.
“An intense focus on evocative design, imaginative technology and leading driving dynamics will help ensure a new generation of Lexus customers are welcomed into IS sports sedan ownership”.
No doubt the additional 45mm wider front, and 50mm rear track will complement the extra chassis stiffness with better overall grip, and sharper response.
Inside, things are more familiar. The high centre console swoops up into a broad central stack which now houses a larger 10.3-inch touchscreen that eschews the awkward trackpad from the previous IS, though Lexus claims the screen is 150mm closer to the driver. This touchscreen runs Lexus’ infotainment system Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, though unlike some competitors this is a cabled system.
Thankfully the foot-operated parking brake has been dropped, too, in favour of a more refined electric toggle switch.
Black is standard, though Lexus offers of rose leather as an option in the luxury grades with ochre trim inserts. F Sport models get satin chrome trim with the choice of red, black or white interior trim.
Powering the new IS is a familiar raft of engines, the IS300 Luxury retains its 180kW and 350Nm outputs from a turbocharged two-litre four-cylinder engine and starts from $61,500 (up $1,000).
Standard equipment includes the new safety tech, that’s bolstered by 18-inch alloy wheels (up from 17s). For $2,000 you can option a moonroof, and for $5,500 more Lexus includes that moonroof, 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, leather-accented interior, 17-speaker Mark Levinson stereo and, perhaps our favourite bit of kit, ventilated seats.
Lexus also offers the IS300h which pairs a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine with a series-parallel hybrid electric motor for a combined output of 164kW. Otherwise, the Luxury specification is identical to the petrol IS300, though pricing starts at $64,500.
A sportier F Sport trim level is available starting from $70,000 for the IS300, and $73,000 for the IS300h. This variant adds adaptive, sports-focused suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels, digital driver’s display, sportier body kit and F Sport trim accents.
The range-topping IS350 is only available in F Sport trim for $75,000 and employs a grunty 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine pumping out 232kW and 380Nm sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed torque converter, as with the IS300.
Lexus offers an optional package that includes rear sunshade, Mark Levinson stereo and moonroof for $3,300 available on all F Sport grades.
The new IS will go on sale on the 6th of November, and we hope to put one against its midsize peers soon after that to see if the comprehensive update has made the driving experience as attractive as the exterior.
2021 Lexus IS Pricing
All prices are before on-road costs
IS300 Luxury Auto – $61,500 (up $1,000)
IS300h Luxury Auto – $64,500 (up $1,000)
IS300 F Sport Auto – $70,000 (up $1,725)
IS300h F Sport Auto – $73,000 (up $1,000)
IS350 F Sport Auto – $75,000 (up $1,664)
Moonroof (Luxury models) – $2,500
Enhancement Pack (Luxury models) – $5,500
Enhancement Pack (F Sport models) – $3,300