2021 Lexus IS debuts with new styling and greater emphasis on handling
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The revelations continue today. Lexus has just picked up the 2021 Lexus IS sports sedan, the fourth generation of its small, sporty four-door. It may not look too different from the outside, but Lexus intoxicates that the driving experience will be the real eye-catcher.
However, we will start with the look. Lexus only introduced the 2021 IS in F Sport, which is the most aggressive of all models. The spindle grille sits proudly in front again. (Apparently, non-F-Sport models also have mini grille-style spindles. We hope you like spindles.) You will also see a new air intake under this grille. It is supposed to direct air to the brakes and support cooling. The slimmer headlights with a new LED pattern look sharp. In addition, Lexus has installed new rocker arms that step into the rear fender for a more aggressive stance. The view from behind offers the most striking change. Lexus chose the full-width taillight design and stretched the red element from one side of the trunk to the other. These taillights are more complex in shape and the rear apron is in shiny black. Lexus also changed the look of the exhaust tip, this time opting for ovals.
But on to the performance. The powertrain layout has not changed. A Lexus IS 300 with rear-wheel drive is still powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with turbocharger. It delivers the same 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque as before and is only connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission. According to Lexus, however, it has been updated for an "adaptive transmission control" that makes it easier to select the gear best suited to the driving situation. An all-wheel drive IS 300 is also available, but is equipped with the 3.5-liter V6, which delivers 260 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. The all-wheel drive IS 300 continues to send the power exclusively via a six-speed automatic transmission. The system can transmit up to 50% of the torque to the front axle. The top IS is the IS 350. It is equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 311 hp and 280 pound-feet of torque. With rear-wheel drive, it is equipped with an eight-speed automatic, while the all-wheel-drive version is equipped with a six-speed automatic. Lexus says the rear-wheel drive IS 350 will reach 60 miles an hour in 5.6 seconds, while the four-wheel drive car will get there in 5.7 seconds.
None of this is particularly noteworthy since it is mostly just a broadcast from last year. Lexus, however, attacked the chassis and suspension with a heavy hand. For starters, Lexus made the body stiffer. The engineers reinforced the radiator supports, increased the number of welding spots on the front side elements and optimized the reinforcement structures from the C-pillars to the sides of the roof. It is equipped with new coil springs that are 20% lighter than before. Lexus also uses forged aluminum for the A-arms instead of steel (18% weight reduction) and has made the suspension stabilizing bar from a “new material”, which results in a weight reduction of 17%. New shock absorbers ensure improved damping under more conditions.
If you choose F Sport's Dynamic Handling Package (DHP), you'll also get new matt black 19-inch BBS wheels that are four pounds lighter than the standard 19-inch wheels of the F Sport models. The vehicles of the DHP package also have a newly tuned adaptive chassis, a limited slip differential of Torsen (rear-wheel drive only) and an even more aggressive Sport S + mode, which is accessible via the driving mode selector. Aesthetically, the DHP also includes a carbon rear lip spoiler, side mirror caps, a Lexus Card Key and contrasting stitching on the knee pad of the center console.
Normal F-Sport sedans have wider tires (265 cross-sectional widths) and a host of other improvements. You get a "cooling air inlet with sound generator", a special F sport exhaust and a diffuser. Lexus fits a unique front and rear bumper, along with other minor changes and F Sport badges all around. On the inside you get F Sport-specific seats (available in Circuit Red), a leather-wrapped shift lever from F Sport, an instrument cluster from F Sport and aluminum pedals. Lexus claims that the Active Sound Control system has been improved to improve the sounds of the V6, but we'll see that it does.
The interior has some other notable new features. Lexus brought the infotainment screen closer to the driver and gave it touch controls, just like the 2020 Lexus RX. The standard touchscreen is an 8-inch device. However, choose navigation or the Mark Levinson sound system, and you'll get a 10.3-inch touchscreen. Both offer Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration. The Mark Levinson system has been upgraded with more speakers (17 speakers) and a power amplifier.
Lexus' comprehensive driver assistance rounds off the new 2021 IS technology. From Lexus adaptive cruise control to lane tracking assist, you get everything you need to stay centered on your lane. Everything is part of the standard equipment. Hint, hint, Germans.
The new IS is due to arrive at dealers in the fall of this year. The prices have not yet been announced. So look closer to the start.
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