Published on June 16th, 2020 | by Subhash Nair


New Lexus IS Revealed, Major Facelift wzith Big Changes

Lexus has revealed the 2021 IS, a major facelift of the 3rd generation model which debuted in 2013. This was not a 4th generation model, as we theorised earlier. Here’s how it has grown compared to the last iteration of the IS.

This new Lexus brings a updated performance, fresh look, new technologies, more equipment and a lot of refinement to the luxury sport sedan nameplate.

A number variants of the new IS were mentioned in the press release:

Lexus IS 350

  • Powered by a 3.5L V6 engine (311hp, 380Nm of torque)
  • RWD version gets 8-speed Sport Direct Shift Automatic and does 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds
  • AWD version gets 6-speed automatic and does 0-60mph in 5.7 seconds.
  • Available in F Sport trim level which comes with a unique and functional bodykit, F Sport badges, F Sport 19″ wheels with staggered tyre size and more

Lexus IS 300 AWD

  • Powered by a 3.5L V6 engine (260hp, 320Nm of torque)
  • 6-speed automatic

Lexus IS 300 RWD

  • Powered by a 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine (241hp, 350Nm)
  • 8-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic

Unnamed Hybrid variant

Lexus spent lots of time honing this new IS at the new Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama. Their Chief Engineer has made it his goal to develop a Lexus Driving Signature that is more balanced, refined in control, and confident than ever before. This Lexus Driving Signature is alive in the new, rear-wheel drive IS.

Here are some of the ways the new IS has been improved in terms of performance:

  • Instantaneous responsiveness to driver input and the suppression of unnecessary movement in sprung mass over various road surfaces.
  • Improvement of controllability upon “returning to center” makes successive driving operations smoother.
  • In the hybrid version, control of the generation of driving force in relation to accelerator input has been updated in pursuit of even-sportier driving.
  • The 2.0-liter turbo version features adaptive transmission control that evaluates the driving environment based on factors such as the depression of the accelerator by the driver, and selects the most-appropriate gear for each driving situation, achieving linear response to accelerator operation and driver intention.
  • Body rigidity was enhanced by, among others, reinforcing radiator side supports, increasing the number of front-side-member weld points, and optimizing structures from the C-pillars to the sides of the roof. This has resulted in the complete elimination of unwanted noise and vibration and improved riding comfort, as well as in improvement of driving performance, such as in the form of response to steering wheel operation.
  • New-design 19-inch tires broadly improve cornering performance. Additionally, hub bolts are used to fasten the wheels, resulting in handling and braking that provide a good sensation due to increased fastening strength and reduced mass.
  • Swing-valve shock absorbers have been employed and are equipped with ultralow-velocity valves in their pistons that manage oil flow in response to the most minor of road irregularities and that generate appropriate damping force. Even when the stroke speed of the shock absorbers is low, appropriate damping force will be exerted, providing excellent responsiveness on all varieties of road surfaces, resulting in ride quality that is consistently even.
  • Active Sound Control enhances comfort and quietness during urban driving and delivers a powerful engine sound that creates a sense of driver-vehicle oneness in situations suited to enjoying aggressive driving.

In terms of design, here are highlights:

  • Slender headlamps with compact and lightweight lamp units
  • lowered side character lines
  • Muscular fenders, “L” motif on taillight, 3D bumper garnishes, new-design 19-inch tires, wide proportions
  • Gently sloped rear-quarter pillars, which help form a firm cabin silhouette that wraps around from the sides, contrast with the muscular rear fenders, further enhancing an aggressive look.
  • Sharper overall contour created by the character line around the decklid.
  • A new-design Spindle Grille with a 3D polyhedral structure
  • Two new exterior, Sonic Iridium and Sonic Chrome

For more details on safety equipment and the interior, here’s the press release.

Press Release

Bask in Cabin Comfort

Luxury and performance are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and yet the two live in harmony in the new IS. The interior features standard NuLuxe®-trimmed seating, with 10-way power driver and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with touch-sensitive controls, an available power moonroof, and SmartAccess with push button start.

New trim adorns each door in F SPORT models with a graphic pattern of embossed intersecting lines, representing a new form of Lexus decorative expression and Takumi craftsmanship. Decorative ornamentation is finished for the first time in Black Metallic paint, Black Geometic Film, or the unique Ash ornamentation exclusive to F SPORT models equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package. Piano Black accents also can be found on surface elements for cabin atmosphere that is both dignified and sporty. Standard NuLuxe interior color options include Black, Glazed Caramel and Rioja Red. On F SPORT packages the options include Black, Circuit Red, and two-tone White/Black, while the F SPORT Dynamic Handling Package is available in Black or Circuit Red interior.

The IS features a standard 8-inch touchscreen nearly 3 inches closer to the driver for easy access to the controls. An expansive new 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on vehicles equipped with navigation or Mark Levinson with navigation. The new multimedia system features Apple CarPlay® compatibility, Android Auto™ compatibility, and Amazon Alexa integration.

With Apple CarPlay compatibility, customers can access the familiar interface from their iPhone through the vehicle’s multimedia display. Simply connect an iPhone to get directions, make calls, send and receive message via Siri®, all hands free, and get access to favorite apps like Spotify, Audible® and Apple podcasts. With Android Auto, Android users can seamlessly cast their device’s interface onto the vehicle’s multimedia display, play music via apps such as Spotify® and Pandora®, send messages through a range of commonly used apps like WhatsApp®, navigate with Google Maps™, and request information-all with just the sound of your voice-through the Google Assistant™. With Lexus+Alexa integration, you can bring all the convenience of Amazon Alexa on the road. Just ask Alexa for the same access to information and the thousands of skills available with Alexa at home. Listen to audiobooks, play favorite music, make lists, check the weather, get news briefings, and much more. Users can also control compatible smart-home devices such as lighting, thermostat and security systems. Offering added in-vehicle convenience, Alexa even syncs to the navigation system to provide on-the-go recommendations.

The available Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System is also enhanced, with the previous system expanding from 15 speakers with 835 watts of power to a 17-speaker system with a new amplifier offering an impressive 1,800 watts. The new Mark Levinson system aimed to reduce interference, improve output (aided by the addition of two speakers), and improve overall sound quality with new EQ tuning. Rear surround speakers have been changed to tweeter/mid-range combination Unity speakers. The audio amplifier has enhanced Quantum Logic Surround for playback of compressed sound sources and to provide a 7.1 surround sound listening experience.

Enhanced Lexus Safety System+

The standard Lexus Safety System+ (LSS+) found on the new IS receives additions for 2021 in the form of the new LSS+ 2.5. A number of key features that are part of the Lexus Safety System+ have been enhanced, along with the addition of a few key features.

For starters, the Pre-Collision System (PCS), which include Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Pedestrian Detection and Bicyclist Detection, features an enhancement to the single-lens camera and millimeter-wave radar elements to expand the response range. By enhancing the radar and camera capabilities it is now possible for the system to help detect not only the vehicle ahead but also a preceding bicyclist in daytime and even a preceding pedestrian in daytime and low-light conditions. At intersections, the system has improved recognition of an oncoming vehicle or pedestrian when performing a left-hand turn and may activate typical PCS functions if needed. Additional PCS functions include Emergency Steering Assist (ESA), which is designed to assist steering within the vehicle’s lane as cued by the driver.

All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC) can be activated above 30 mph and is designed to perform vehicle-to-vehicle distance controls down to 0 mph and can resume from a stop. DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smooth overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle traveling slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; after changing lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the original preset driving speed.

Lane Departure Alert is designed to help notify the driver if it senses the vehicle is leaving the lane without engaging a turn signal via steering wheel vibrations or audible alert. When DRCC is set and engaged, Lane Tracing Assist (LTA) is designed to provide slight steering force to help steer to the center of the lane to assist the driver with staying in the lane using lane markers or a preceding vehicle. LTA alerts the driver with a visual warning and either an audible alert or steering wheel vibration. In the new IS, the lane recognition performance, which makes LTA possible, has been improved with enhanced recognition of line and road edge, lateral G performance, and enhanced control and stability after lane change.

Additional LSS+ 2.5 features include Intelligent High Beams, which detects preceding or oncoming vehicles and automatically switches between high beam and low beam headlights. Road Sign Assist (RSA) is designed to acquire certain road sign information using a camera and navigation maps and displays them on the multi-information display (MID). With DRCC engaged and activated, RSA can also adjust speed up to the posted speed limit if driving slower or down to the posted speed limit if driving faster than posted.

To help IS drivers change lanes with confidence, the standard Blind Spot Monitor is designed to help detect and warn you of vehicles approaching or positioned in the adjacent lanes. Standard Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) can offer added peace of mind by helping to detect vehicles approaching from either side while backing out with a visual and audible warning.

Explore More with Lexus AR Play App

In support of the launch of the new 2021 IS Lexus has unveiled the Lexus AR Play, an immersive augmented reality app that allows users to explore the vehicle on their smart phone or tablet.

The app allows users to preview the vehicle in an interactive way, with the ability to virtually walk around the new IS, zoom in and out, and explore 360-degree exterior and interior views. The IS can be personalized with eight different colors, open and close the doors and trunk, explore vehicle design and features, and even virtually drive the Lexus IS in augmented reality like a remote-controlled car.

The Lexus AR Play app is now available for download for iOS and Android devices in the App Store and Google Play.

Lexus Enform for Safety and Convenience

Lexus Enform Safety Connect comes with a three-year trial with access to Lexus Enform response centers 24/7/365. With Lexus Enform Service Connect, complimentary for the first 10 years, the vehicle can send alerts for specific factory recommended maintenance while simultaneously alerting a preferred Lexus dealer. In addition, the Lexus App allows guests to do everything from starting their vehicle remotely with a smartphone, to contacting dealers for a service appointment, and much more. With an active subscription, the Lexus App dashboard provides a personalized view of convenient vehicle and connected service information, including the Vehicle Health Report, scheduled maintenance and vehicle health alerts. Guests also can manage their subscriptions right from the palm of their hand.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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