Refreshed Lexus IS saloon makes Paris debut

A subtle facelift and improved suspension should give the IS a new lease of life

Lexus has given its IS range of junior saloons a mid-life facelift, and has taken the opportunity to stiffen up the suspension, too.

The third-generation IS, which launched in 2013, has always stood out next to rivals from BMW, Mercedes and Audi, but new headlights, much larger air intakes in the front bumper and some tweaks to the gaping spindle grille (including raising its ‘waist’ to give an impression that the car has a lower centre of gravity, apparently) have been introduced to keep it looking sharp.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

Lexus has also reshaped the bonnet and will offer new 17-inch and 18-inch wheel designs, while at the back there are new ‘triple-layered’ LED lights and rectangular, chromed exhaust tips.

Changes to the interior are subtle, though the infotainment screen has increased from seven inches in diameter to 10.25 inches and is now of a higher resolution.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Given the more aggressive exterior design, it’s disappointing that power outputs will remain the same across the range. This is particularly true of the hybrid IS300h (which accounts for nine out of ten IS sales in Europe), which despite combining a naturally aspirated 2.5-litre in-line four with an electric motor, still offers just 179bhp and 163lb ft. The IS200t, meanwhile, is the more exciting package and develops 241bhp and 258lb ft from its turbocharged 2-litre engine.

evo has always considered the suspension setup to be a strong-point of the IS range, and now both models will benefit from new forged-aluminium lower-arm assemblies said to be 49 per cent stiffer than the steel hardware currently in use. Spring rates have also been revised for the front axle and there are upgraded dampers that have been recalibrated.

Whether these changes are primarily to improve B-road handling or motorway cruising isn’t clear, but rear traction, stability, ride quality and body control are all said to be better than before.

Both cars are real-wheel-drive, although the torque-rich turbocharged model benefits from an eight-speed automatic gearbox that makes it more intuitive and enjoyable to drive than the IS300h, which is hindered by its e-CVT. Lexus hasn’t yet said whether the upgraded IS200t in F Sport trim will benefit from the Torsen limited-slip differential of the RC200t F Sport (read our review here), but such an addition to the drivetrain would be no bad thing.

Prices for the new IS range have yet to be announced, but are unlikely to differ much from those for the current IS200t or IS300h, which both start at £28,995.

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/lexus/is/202678/2021-lexus-is-saloon-revealed-aggressive-new-look-for-japans-3-series-rival
Lexus IS

2021 Lexus IS saloon revealed – aggressive new look for Japan’s 3-series rival

16 Jun 2020
Visit/lexus/is/202005/lexus-is-and-rx-gain-updates-for-2020
Lexus IS

Lexus IS and RX gain updates for 2020

29 Nov 2019
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/best-cars/15095/best-cars-to-buy-for-ps10000-evo-garage
Best cars

Best cars to buy for £10,000 – evo garage

The evo team picks their favourite used performance cars
1 Jul 2020
Visit/dodge/challenger/202845/2021-dodge-challenger-srt-super-stock-revealed
Dodge Challenger

2021 Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock revealed

The ancient Dodge Challenger lives on in new 807bhp widebody form – makes a Shelby GT500 look like a pedal car
3 Jul 2020
Visit/bmw/m3-saloon/20529/2020-bmw-m3-tech-specs-revealed-choice-is-the-word-for-bmws-sports-saloon
BMW M3 saloon

2020 BMW M3 tech specs revealed – choice is the word for BMW’s sports saloon

BMW’s next M3 to be available in manual or auto; with and without all-wheel drive
1 Jul 2020
Visit/audi/audi-e-tron/202840/new-496bhp-audi-e-tron-s-revealed-audis-first-high-performance-ev
Audi e-tron

New 496bhp Audi e-tron S revealed – Audi’s first high-performance EV

The Audi e-tron S has picked up an extra electric motor for a total of three in new EV flagship
1 Jul 2020