Like, as in, it’s the new Lexus IS. It’s exciting that it IS unveiled, but it would be rude to shout about it. Or would it?
The 2021 Lexus IS has been unveiled and it looks good. At first glance it looks like an all-new car because there is a lot of new panel work to make the Lexus mid-size sedan a bit more grrr.
This isn’t an all-new, TNGA-based IS. The 2021 Lexus IS is a very heavy update of the N platform based car we already know and love.
Also on board for the new car is a few new safety features, new cabin technology and a choice of drivetrains. It’s an important car for Lexus – the IS is its top-selling non SUV.
2021 Lexus IS Exterior
And I reckon it has absolutely worked. The IS it replaces is a bit dumpy in places (but better than when it first launched), the new one is sharp. This iteration is a more coherent design although it does still have those weird front lights I thought Lexus was going away from.
The new front end gives even the basic car a really muscular down-the-road look. The big spindle grille makes it look lovely and wide and the lights integrate a lot better.
The profile is fairly familiar but the pumped rear guards remind you that it’s rear-wheel drive. I like all the new creasing along the car, too.
And I am absolutely on board with the new rear lights.
2021 Lexus IS Interior
The new cabin is fairly familiar buy there is lots of new stuff. Like the 10.3-inch touchscreen bucking the integration trend by sitting proud on the dashboard.
It looks typically Lexus, of course, which is to say tight as a drum but with too many buttons and that silly analogue clock.
I am really hoping those awesome seats are standard, they look brilliant. The colour isn’t standard, but part of the F Sport spec and is called Fire Red.
Lexus is keen for you to know that the new IS has funky new door trims.
Drivetrain and chassis
As before, the range starts with the 180kW IS300 (which used to be known as the IS200t) then moves to the 164kW IS300h hybrid.
The IS300h now has better throttle response, which is handy, because Lexus hybrids can be a bit doughy. It’s still a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder paired with an integrated electric motor with a tiny battery. They’re called “self-charging” hybrids which never fails to amuse me.
And – thankfully – the 232kW 3.5-litre V6 continues with an eight-speed auto (and not a silly 12-speed or something similar).
Still no new IS F, though. Boo. But…US Lexus execs were at least willing to talk about the possibility of a V8 IS.
Lexus says the new car has a better chassis courtesy of a swathe of rigidity improvements, newly-available 19-inch alloys and some clever dampers.
There’s the new Shimoyama test track, too, part of the Lexus technical centre. Makes a nice change from a Nurburgring claim.
Lexus Safety System +
The new car scores five new safety functions over the outgoing car. Lane Trace Assist is an new stability system that helps keep you in your lane.
Driver Emergency Stop Assist will bring the car to a gentle stop if the driver doesn’t respond to warnings. If it thinks you’re out of it (say, having a medical episode), the car will place an emergency call.
Emergency Steering Assist will help you if the car thinks you’re overreacting or messing up.
Pre-collision Safety System adds Audi-style protection from driving into oncoming traffic when you make a courageous right turn.
And the clever Low Speed Acceleration control will stop the car if the system thinks you’ve hit the throttle instead of the brake.
How much is the 2021 Lexus IS and when can I have one?
No idea and later this year.
Well, “no idea” is probably a little silly. Prices will almost certainly rise but Lexus is unlikely to go nuts. It will still be competitive, cheap to run and have an okay warranty.
If the chassis updates are anything to go by, it should bring the car up to speed with the new 3 Series. While the IS has always oozed comfort and refinement, a bit more mongrel won’t go astray.
Peter Anderson is the Editor and founder of the theredline.com.au. He’s been writing about cars for years and finds it difficult to talk about anything else.