For the first time, Lexus has decided to launch IS as a hybrid-only model. The hybrid sector has shown immense growth on a global scale in the past five years and Lexus South Africa plans to leverage its existing dominance here to enlarge their share further, positioning hybrids as performance and technology-rich vehicles. The result is three model grades in hybrid: IS 300h EX, IS 300h SE and IS 300 F Sport.
The IS F Sport is alluring and assertive. Lexus designers didn’t hold back when penning the range topper’s coupé-like silhouette and dramatic rendition of the signature spindle grille that shows even greater intricacy in the design. It features the iconic mesh pattern that has been used on all F Sport models; while the lower grille construction incorporates RC-F inspired air intakes that accentuate its sporty image.
Standard features on the Lexus IS now include 18-inch alloy wheels for the EX and SE (19-inch for the F Sport), an electric park brake (replacing foot-operated), new 10.3-inch touch-display with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, a pre-collision system for the SE grade and F Sport featuring daytime/night-time pedestrian detection plus daytime cyclist detection, all-speed active cruise control (SE and F Sport), lane tracing assist (SE and F Sport), blind-spot monitor (SE and F Sport), rear cross-traffic alert+brake, as well as a panoramic view monitor for the SE and F Sport when reversing.
Enjoy smart entry and start, heated / power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, 10-speaker audio for the EX grade and 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound for SE and F Sport grades. The top-spec models come standard with satellite navigation, voice control and LED headlamps with automatic high-beam.
The significant expansion of leading luxury- and driver-assist technology is leveraged by enhanced body rigidity, lighter suspension components and a wider front and rear track – all synergising in the first Lexus with handling tuned at the company’s new purpose-built ‘mini Nurburgring’ test facility in Shimoyama, Japan.
The IS has a combined-cycle fuel consumption from as low as 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres and the 0-100 sprint is 8.7 seconds with a top speed of 200km/h. It has a petrol-hybrid 2.5 litre CVT engine that achieves a maximum power of 133kW @ 6000rpm and maximum torque of 221Nm @ 4200-5400rpm.
F Sport exclusive items include the F Sport emblem on the front fender, piano-black garnish on the front grille and lower bumper, plus the exclusive 19-inch aluminium wheels that feature a premium dark-metallic coating.
The new IS as a focused driver’s car. The IS F Sport and SE grades offer more advanced specifications with the F Sport model delivering dynamic hybrid vehicle performance.
Overall, the IS reimagines the sports sedan concept with a low and wide stance, the sleek proportions of a four-door coupe, slimmer headlights and a lower, sharper side character line, all of which synergise to express a centre of gravity closer to the ground. Gently sloped rear-quarter pillars, which help form a sleek cabin silhouette, wrap around from the sides, contrasting with muscular rear fenders. This is further emphasised by single-blade rear combination lights sporting an ‘L’ motif and a sharper overall contour created by the character line around the boot lid.
Materials and ornamentation have been upgraded inside to complement the new 10.3-inch touch-display, which has been moved forward 150mm. Elegant ochre interior trim complements a choice of black or dark rose on the SE and EX grades, while the F Sport is available in black, white and flare red – all with satin chrome ornamentation.
There is particular focus placed on enhancing the renowned rear-wheel drive dynamics of the Lexus IS. The new model becomes the first Lexus to debut the ‘Lexus Driving Signature’ that will become the development standard for all future Lexus models. This is defined by linear vehicle operation that is faithful to a driver’s intentions, providing seamless transition from braking to steering and acceleration through a corner.
Substantial chassis changes include a 45mm-wider front and 50mm-wider rear track for greater vehicle turn-in and stability. Body rigidity has been improved, including the addition of bracing connecting the front-pillar section and apron member, contributing to the enhanced steering response and cornering ability.
Adaptive Variable Suspension on F Sport boasts anti-dive and anti-squat control, as well as roll-attitude control. It even includes unsprung mass vibration damping control – where a higher damping force is maintained when unsprung resonance is detected based on speed-sensor signal output, thus helping enhance road holding with no loss of ride comfort.
In addition to Normal mode, it includes Sport S+ damping for tighter damping control during spirited driving. Active Cornering Assist (ACA) is newly adopted on all models, which is designed to maintain the most ideal vehicle posture when cornering by imperceptibly braking individual wheels to maintain the driver’s intended line.
The 2021 Lexus IS exterior palette includes 10 colours that accentuate its stunning profile. Three of those – Solar Storm Red, Poseidon Blue and White Nova – are exclusive to the F Sport. The EX and SE have an additional two exclusive colours: White Quartz and Morello Red.
Available to pre-order already from Lexus dealerships, 2021 Lexus IS models retail from R841 300 for the EX grade, R899 800 for the SE grade and R916 100 for the F Sport. The entire IS range boasts a best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. The vehicle service intervals are pegged at every 15 000km, or alternatively once a year.