Third-gen model gets more style, better rear accommodation and new hybrid option
It seems the IS is sexier than ever...
It certainly is, probably because these first official pictures of the all-new IS from Lexus are based on the F-Sport version.
Note the accentuated spindle-like grille, daytime-running headlights, C-pillars and rear lamps. The IS really has more pizzazz now and stays loyal to the LF-CC concept car in design.
What's intriguing, though, is how the standard IS would look like because the F-sport package doesn't seem to accommodate the ability to carry a front licence plate _ it's not legally required in the US.
We'll have to wait till the IS makes its world debut in Detroit this week to see how the rest of the range will evolve.
Hope the interior isn't cramped anymore...
Steering wheel and panel dial inspired by those in LFA supercar.
Yeah, rear access and accommodation were the weak points in the outgoing model, which is why Lexus said they have been rectified in the third-generation IS.
Lexus isn't talking numbers yet, but they say the IS has a wider body, longer wheelbase and thinner front seat to help yield class-leading knee room for rear occupants.
In addition, the rear seats can fold split 60/40 to increase luggage space, hoping that the car won't be a laughing stock anymore for rivals like the BMW 3-series and Mercedes-Benz C-class in practicality terms. The good bit of the new IS is the dashboard design which shares the avant-garde materials with the bigger GS and LS saloons.
The instrument display and steering wheel, in particular, have been inspired by those in the LFA supercar _ a good thing, you could say, given the IS's sporty concept.
Any news on the technical front?
First the bad news. The IS250 maintains the same 2.5-litre V6 and six-speed automatic transmission as the preceding model which happens to be the only combination Thais have gotten in second-gen form.
An eight-speed automatic has been slotted into the IS350 (3.5-litre V6), but this option can be ruled out for Thailand due to reasons of excessive excise tax.
The 3-series and C-class have eight- and seven-speed autos, respectively, across their model ranges.
Now for the good news. There's a new IS300h, running the 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid and CVT automatic of the Toyota Camry Hybrid. And because of a special tax rate for hybrids in Thailand, the IS300h would emerge as the new crucial version for the IS range.
Power, performance and economy figures have yet to be disclosed by the auto maker.
How should I rationalise the ES and IS notion?
Many of you have already heard that Lexus will be reviving right-hand-drive sales of the ES in Thailand this year which will also come with the same hybrid option as the IS300h (called ES300h in this case).
However, these two Lexuses are very different to each other. The ES is a bigger and more comfort-oriented saloon with subtle front-wheel-drive dynamics, whereas the IS is a smaller and sportier version with driver-orientated rear-wheel-drive running gear. As well, the ES's prices are expected to point higher toward 3.5 million baht, while the IS would be lower by around half-a-million baht. Actually, the ES is meant to sit in between the GS and IS in price.
F-Sport package gives IS racy exterior appearance.
About the author
- Writer: Richard Leu
Position: Motoring news Editor