The all-new Lexus IS is Lexus’ latest iteration of it’s RWD sport compact luxury sedan. It aims to beat the BMW 3 Series, especially in the fun to drive department. I am a Lexus fan and I am excited to tell you that the new Lexus IS 350 has now been launched by Lexus Manila.
The Lexus IS aims to be a more distinct car over it’s predecessor. The design is much more agressive and menacing, now having a much more sculpted version of Lexus’ Spindle Grille, while keeping some of the typical design cues of the original Lexus IS. Personally, I like the IS’ love it or hate it styling over the BMW 3 Series’ design which is conservative and the side seems to have not changed over the E90.
The interior design has a lot of horizontal lines, which is a design inspired from the Lexus LFA. Same goes with the steering, which is inspired from the Lexus LFA. The design is more sporty than elegant, focusing more on the younger audience Lexus is targeting with the new IS.
The Lexus IS 350 measures 4660mm long. 75 mm longer and 12 mm wider than its predecessor. The wheelbase has been extended by 70 mm to 2800 mm. This translates to 50 mm more legroom for the rear passengers. One of it’s predecessor’s downfall was the tight rear seat. Let’s see if there are any improvements if I gets my hands on one.
Lexus IS 350
*Standard IS 300h shown. Not available in the Philippines. For reference purposes only.
Let’s talk about the standard model first. The standard IS gets LED daytime running lights, and single projector-beam HID headlamps.
The standard Lexus IS 350’s transmission is a 6-speed automatic with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Lexus IS 350 F Sport
Now to the F Sport model. The IS 350 F Sport receives a mesh grille, with patterns mimicking the Spindle Grille, a set of LFA-inspired 10-spoke alloy wheels, and a more agressive front lip design. Another feature that separates the IS F Sport from the standard model are the pair of twin projector-beam HID headlamps.
The interior of the Lexus IS F Sport is another story. It is more LFA inspired than the standard model. Gone are the twin gauges as the F Sport has a TFT LCD gauge with a sliding bezel in the middle, inspired yet again by the Lexus LFA, albeit displaying more information than the gauge from the said supercar. Variable Gear Ratio Steering, another IS F Sport exclusive, adjusts the steering ratio depending on factors such as speed. The transmission for the F Sport model is the 8-speed automatic which is straight from the V8 Lexus IS F. It has a feature called G-force Artificial Intelligence, which when left in Drive, the G-AI will intelligently shift and hold revs while driving on the track, sensing different G-forces as you enter and exit a corner. Another F Sport exclusive are sound tubes that bring the intake sound towards the cabin.
Powertrain and Suspension
Both models are powered by a 3.5 liter V6 with D-4S dual injection technology (Direct Injection and Port Fuel Injection). The engine produces 306 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 375 nm of torque at 4,800 rpm. Both models come standard with a Drive Mode Selector, which includes Normal, and Sport, while Sport + is only on the F Sport model. The suspension on all models are a double wishbone suspension in the front, and a multilink rear suspension, which are all derived from the highly successful Lexus GS.
All models are equipped with Lexus’ Display Audio with a 7-inch display and rotary knob, which is in similar fashion from the Germans, dual-zone climate control with capacitive touch switches, 10 airbags, Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system (VDIM), and of course, the typical power features from the seats and mirrors.
*Lexus Display Audio controller. Remote Touch not available.
In the title, you will notice that I said the pricing was unbelievable. It is, and in a very good way. The Lexus IS 350 costs PHP2,548,000 and the IS 350 F Sport costs PHP3,058,000. Now that is very good value. The standard Lexus IS 350 is even cheaper than the F Sport version of the smaller and less powerful, but very fuel efficient Lexus CT 200h. The reason behind this is mainly because of the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) in which vehicles assembled in Japan which have an engine size of 3.0 liters and above are tax-free. A BMW 328i Sport Line here in the Philippines costs PHP4,290,000, in which as you can see, costs a lot more than the more powerful and similarly equipped IS 350 F Sport. This has created unfair competition in the market, wherein Lexus has a huge pricing advantage over it’s European rivals, where the standard Lexus IS is in the same price bracket of what a compact German hatchback costs.