We already know what the new 2021 Lexus IS looks like at this point thanks to videos that were leaked on YouTube. Lexus has now unveiled and released all of the details about the new Lexus IS, confirming rumors that this is not exactly an all-new model.
While not exactly all-new, the exterior does not share any panels from its predecessor. It also arguably looks better than ever. Up front, there’s a new spindle grille with a “three-dimensional, polyhedral structure,” slimmer LED headlights, and an overall cleaner, sleeker design. At the sides, the previous generation IS’ signature character line that rises up from the rear of the side skirts and towards the taillights have been toned down. As we move further back, the IS now features LED taillights that run across the width of the car. This is a design detail that made its debut in the Lexus UX subcompact crossover SUV. Of course, as with every Lexus, the IS also comes in a sportier F Sport variant, which gains unique front and rear bumpers and 19-inch alloy wheels.
The interior is proof that the new Lexus IS is actually a heavily facelifted version of the current model. The dashboard looks largely the same, albeit with numerous material and quality upgrades. The graphite finish on the climate controls has been swapped for a shiny piano black finish. As for the infotainment, it now gets a newer generation of Lexus Remote Touch. Whereas the screen from the previous generation was tucked inside the dashboard, the new model’s 10.3-inch larger screen is now a freestanding unit and is now a touch screen as well. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now come as standard. F Sport variants get a fully-digital instrument cluster and red leather interior. The optional Mark Levinson premium audio system has been upgraded with 17 speakers and 1,800 watts of power.
The new Lexus IS carries over with the same engine choices as before. The IS 300 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 petrol engine that produces 241 hp and 349 Nm of torque, with power being sent to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic. Oddly enough, the IS 300 AWD features a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 260 hp 320 Nm of torque, which is paired to a 6-speed automatic.
The Lexus IS that’s bound for the Philippine market will most likely continue to be the IS 350 in order to take advantage of the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA). It is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 311 hp and 380 Nm of torque, sending power to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic. Zero to 100 kph is achieved in 5.8 seconds with this powertrain.
While not an all-new model, the 2021 Lexus IS’ N platform has been extensively upgraded and now features what Lexus calls its “Lexus Driving Signature.” During its testing at the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama, engineers focused on reinforcing the radiator side supports by increasing the number of front-side-member weld points and optimizing reinforcement structures from the C-pillars to the sides of the roof. Lexus says that the increased rigidity not only helps reduce unwanted noise and vibration, but it also helps improve riding comfort and driving performance with enhanced response to steering input.
Further improving on the sportiness of the new IS are its coil springs that are 20 percent lighter than the outgoing model. New A-arms are employed as well that features a forged aluminum material versus the outgoing model’s steel composition, resulting in an 18 percent weight reduction. Engineers also opted for a new material for the suspension stabilizer bar to optimize the diameter and thickness to provide a 17 percent weight reduction.
For those wanting for even better handling out of the new Lexus IS, there is an optional Dynamic Handling Package that adaptive variable suspension, 19-inch matte black forged BBS wheels, carbon fiber mirror caps, and a carbon fiber rear spoiler. The BBS wheels actually have a handling benefit because each wheel is 1.8 kilograms lighter than the standard 19-inch wheels.
The new Lexus IS, like every other modern car nowadays, benefits from a host of advanced driver-assist systems under the Lexus Safety System+ umbrella. This includes automatic emergency braking, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and a new Lane Tracing Assist that keeps the new IS right in the middle of its lane rather than passively waiting for the vehicle to drive over the lane markings.
The 2021 Lexus IS goes on sale in the US this fall with pricing to be announced closer to its release date. A global release will follow shortly.