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June 16, 2020

The 2021 Lexus IS Polishes, But Doesn't Re-Write the Sports Sedan Rules

Despite the world’s insatiable appetite for SUVs and crossovers, Lexus is still banking on the compact sports sedan segment and with that unveiled the 2021 Lexus IS.

The 2021 Lexus IS evokes lower and wider proportions. It’s slightly wider built to accommodate the available 19-inch wheels. Upfront, it features a new take on the signature spindle grille with a three-dimensional polyhedral structure to emphasize its presence. At the side, new rocker panels accentuate the profile, while the rear features a new Lexus design trademark: the L-shaped blade-style light bar that spans across the back.

Inside, the new Lexus IS aims to bring luxury and performance in harmony. Some of the available features include NuLuxe-trimmed seats, 10-way power and 8-way power front passenger seats, dual zone climate control with touch sensitive controls, and a 17-speaker Mark Levinson system.

At launch, the Lexus IS comes with three engine choices. It starts with a turbocharged 2.0-liter with 241 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque. While powerful, Lexus says it’s efficient thanks to its VVTi-W system which allows the engine to switch between two combustion cycles—Otto and Atkinson. Then, there’s the 3.5-liter V6 with 260 horsepower and 320 Nm of torque. Oddly enough, both of these versions carry the IS 300 badge, only the V6 is hooked up to all-wheel drive. Finally, there’s the IS 350 with a 3.5-liter V6 good for 311 horsepower and 380 Nm of torque.

Lexus has worked overtime to hone the 2021 IS’s handling using the Toyota Technical Center in Shimoyama, Japan.

Opened in 2019, the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture is near Lexus’s global headquarters. Its country road test course is inspired by Lexus’s many years of experience driving on Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife, famous throughout the world for its grueling driving conditions. The 5.31-kilometer test course at Shimoyama is designed to take advantage of the local topography, and it features a nearly 76-meter change in elevation, a wide range of curves and corners, and multiple types of road surfaces.

Thanks to learnings at Shimoyama, the Lexus IS features increased body rigidity through reinforced radiator side supports, increased number of front-side-member weld points, and optimized structures from the C-pillars to the sides of the roof. This has resulted in the 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.

The F Sport can be further augmented with the addition of a Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) that includes Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). For 2021, engineers have optimized the damping force of the AVS system to help enhance performance. Also, for the first time, the new IS will be available with larger 19-inch wheels to improve cornering force and provide a greater contact patch with the road. Standard 18-inch wheels will replace the outgoing 17-inch wheels on all other models.

The new IS will be available for sale in global markets including the North America, Japan, the Middle East, and specific countries in South America, Oceania, and Asia.

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