After a week long delay, Lexus has whipped the virtual covers off the 2021 IS sedan at a global virtual unveiling.
At a time when other manufacturers are focusing more on comfort and accessibility, Lexus is at pains to point out that the new IS sedan is a car born with sports intent.
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As such, it retains much of what made the previous generation a unique offering (like the naturally-aspirated V6 and rear-wheel drive) when compared to the class rivals like the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Genesis G70 and Audi A4.
The new look IS appears lower and wider than before, sporting a set of slimmer headlights up the front which straddle the brand’s gaping spindle grille. Attractive crease lines adorn the side profile which tapers in at the rear quarter towards the back of the car, the centrepiece of which is a uni-beam rear light.
Less has been changed on the inside, with pictures showing a slightly tweaked version of the previous car’s cabin. The interior is now headlined by a 10.3-inch infotainment screen that can run Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring. Bad news is the fact that the much-maligned touchpad control for the infotainment stays, but the good news is that the screen itself is touch-sensitive giving occupants another option.
Few other changes grace the interior, though eagle-eyed viewers will be able to make out changes between trims and accenting.
The engine offerings on the previous generation Lexus IS will carry-over to the reworked 2021 model, meaning a return of the headlining 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6 engine. That means a return of the IS350 and 232kW/380Nm sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed transmission.
We’ll also see the IS300 again which uses the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 180kW and 350Nm and the IS300h is retained with its 2.5-litre normally aspirated four-cylinder engine and electric motor pairing that outputs 133kW/221Nm.
Much fuss has been made about the fact that the IS is set to become the new benchmark for which other models of the Lexus range will be judged against, dynamics wise.
The “Lexus Driving Signature” is defined by “linear vehicle operation that is faithful to a driver's intentions”, while allowing seamless transition between braking, steering and acceleration. This new philosophy was developed at the new Lexus technical centre in Shimoyama, Japan which features a faithful representation of the famous Nurburgring circuit.
What that means for the 2021 IS driving dynamics is, despite running on the same underpinnings as before, a wider track by 45 millimetres at the front and 50 mm at the back, a more rigid design thanks to extra welding and reinforcement and a more responsive steering weight. These changes, according to Lexus, are said to quieten the noise, vibration and harshness levels as well as improve ride comfort.
The 2021 Lexus IS will hit Australian dealerships at the end of the year, with full details and range specifications to be revealed closer to the launch.
Lexus Australia chief executive Scott Thompson is particularly excited to offer the new IS in Australia, citing its rear-driven nature and sports angle as a key opportunity to differentiate to rivals.
"Australian customer preferences align perfectly with the focus on sharp design, dynamic performance and cutting-edge technology with the stunning new IS, making it an important addition to Lexus dealerships later this year," Thompson said.
Click on the photo at the top to view a gallery full of 2021 Lexus IS images.