2014 Lexus IS 350

2014 Lexus IS 350

The Good:
– Head-turning new exterior
– Great fun with ESP off
– Fairly comfortable ride
The Bad:
– Above-average cabin noise
– No fun with ESP on
– Some hard cabin plastics

Lexus is on a path of reinvention. It started last year with the capable new GS midsize sedan, although they haven’t delivered any other car that you could get excited about since then. Well, until the all-new IS sedan that is.

Now based on a slightly-shorter version of the GS platform, it shows in the long wheelbase and the short overhangs. The styling is aggressively anti-Lexus, even if it does have that new corporate grille now. There’s more swooshes on it than a Nike factory, and it now looks unique enough to turn lots of heads on the street. Even those weird headlights give it character. Its biggest rival, the BMW 335i, went completely unnoticed even when it was new last year. Frankly, the standard IS looks good enough that you don’t have to spring for the overdone F-Sport version.

2014 Lexus IS 350 7

Moving inside, the cabin looks great in an art-deco kind of way, with superb leather and soft-touch materials along the dash-top and upper door trimmings. There’s some unfortunate cost-cutting though, with a hard-plastic centre console and lower panels, We’d be fine with this, except that the BMW 3-Series offers much more premium-trimmed surfaces, reminding you that you spent more than any Lexus IS 350 owner did.

Interior space has definitely improved, thanks to the longer wheelbase. The front seats are well-bolstered, although the centre console is a bit tall, reducing elbow room. While offering a little less rear legroom than the BMW, it is still spacious enough in the back for average-sized adults, making it more practical than the cramped Cadillac ATS. The exposed cup-holders are placed in the most awkward of locations on the centre-armrest, which is already cluttered with two knobs to control various gadgets. There’s cup-holders for rear passengers too, and the boot is good-sized for a car in its class, although the goose-neck hinges do take up a lot of space. It even offers split-folding rear seatbacks, something they couldn’t make the GS 350 do.

There’s no compromises on gadgetry though, with a central colour screen controlled via a Lexus-specific “joy-mouse” thingy. The screen isn’t as big as the one in the GS though, but it still integrates everything from navigation to stereo functions. We couldn’t be bothered to use it most of the time, as there were shortcut buttons for basic stereo and a/c functions to save time. The CD/MP3 stereo is excellent, with USB/AUX ports and Bluetooth streaming support. Even the dual-zone a/c with rear vents is great in July weather. Other features include smart keyless start, HID or optional LED headlights, a small sunroof, a full set of airbags, and optional adaptive cruise control.

2014 Lexus IS 350 4

The engine is taken straight out of the GS 350, a 3.5-litre V6 unit that pumps out 312 hp at 6400 rpm and 375 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm. Mated to a smart-enough 8-speed automatic, the motor’s performance was wholly disappointing, with a nice soundtrack but an obvious lack of torque, netting us a 0-100 kph time of 7.5 seconds in July weather. Another IS 350 we drove, an F Sport version, was equally underwhelming. But then we realised that both these cars had less than 200 km on the clock, and we got a time of 6.5 seconds with a GS 350 last year. The motors probably just need time to break in. Fuel economy was good though, with the trip computer reading 10.9 litres/100 km during our time.

As a luxury sedan, the IS 350 is compromised in some respects. It is silent at 100 kph, but as speeds go beyond 120 kph, the wind and road noise grow exponentially. But what we did like is the ride quality, a bit on the firm side, but pretty compliant, soaking up the harsher road imperfections with ease, while not feeling floaty at all over “wavy” surfaces. The F-Sport version gets adaptive suspension, but it makes the ride only slightly smoother.

Driving the F-Sport with enthusiasm turned out to be a disappointment at the launch event. With this regular IS 350, we had more time to play with, and it was just as unsatisfying. The problem is that, as impressively-flat as the IS 350’s body control is, the stability control kicks in way too early, even in the sportiest modes, so that the car is artificially slowed down on curves long before the tyres start squealing with any zeal. In contrast, BMW’s traction control allows for some mild sideways fun in “sport” mode. Heck, so does its cousin, the Toyota 86. So we went the extra step and simply turned off the electronic nannies.

With ESP off, the car suddenly underwent a remarkable transformation. Throwing the car into sharp corners, instead of understeer we got full-on oversteer. And what a chassis this is, because we were easily able to catch the slide and bring it back in line without spinning out, even when we threw it into some “S” curves, sliding the tail out right and left while being in total control. The brakes don’t have much bite if pressed on lightly, but stop strongly if the pedal is pounded on. The steering is weighted, but offers only mild feedback, although it’s still sharp enough to manage rally-style weight-shifting and have the kind of fun that only a balanced rear-wheel-drive car can offer. We could almost forgive the fact that it comes with a stupid foot-operated parking brake.

So we started out with the notion that the IS 350 is just as dull as a front-biased Audi A4, and ended our drive thinking of this car as a four-door Toyota 86! It’s rather odd that Lexus chose to neuter this car with such a restrictive ESP system that you have to go commando and drive without an electronic safety net if you want to have some fun. In a way, it keeps the hipster buyers safe, while rewarding true enthusiasts who possess a bit of skill. We’d even say to save your money and skip the F-Sport, because it offers very little extra beyond what the regular IS 350 does. All in all, it’s not the most impressive luxury car, but it’s a proper sports sedan underneath.

Price Range:
Dh 190,000-210,000

Current Model Introduced in:
2014

Body Styles:
4-door sedan

Engines:
3.5L 312 hp V6 / 375 Nm

Transmissions:
8-speed automatic

Setup:
Rear-wheel-drive

Suspension:
Front: independent
Rear: independent

Brakes:
Front: discs
Rear: discs

Curb Weight:
1630 kg

Length:
4665 mm

Wheelbase:
2800 mm

Top Speed:
229 kph(limited)

Test Acceleration 0-100 kph:
7.5 sec.

Observed Test Fuel Economy:
10.9 litres/100km

21 comments to 2014 Lexus IS 350

  • Sri Krishna

    Great job by Lexus would if same styling quotes were used in Toyota..

  • Kiyoshi Manabe

    My previous generation Lexus IS350(GRS21) is a “4-door 2+2”,frankly speaking.
    Hence the newest IS series has done a great leap from old one in accomodation,as a proper 4-seater sedan,while the level of CO2 is below average(194g/km for IS250,231g/km for IS350),it shows vast room for improvement near future!
    We do expect Toyota/Lexus’ further effort.

  • Sheldon

    the acceleration number is for sure wrong, now don’t lecture me about the method or the apps that you use to measure that just post a video for the acceleration that will prove it
    thanks

    • Bomb

      Hey dumbass, did you even read the article or just skip to the end? It clearly states the engine was too fresh, and that a GS350 with same engine was faster, so this should be faster once engine is broken in.

    • Sheldon

      Excuses excuses excuses I think you still live in the last century, this bullshit of that the engine is still fresh is just ridiculous, my point is……. never mind feels like talking to an elderly person and you are the only dumbass starting of your name

    • Nero

      What a fanboy, lol. Everybody’s an expert on internet forums.

  • rob p

    I have bought one and I simply love it. I’ve had Audis, BMWs and Alfas in the past.This knocks spots off all of them. Mind you it’s the most I have ever spent on a car! The only criticism of it is the sat nav – far too fussy and complicated to use for simple a to b stuff.

  • mohammad

    Why not spend less than AED 170k and get a V6 powered VW CC? For sure the CC looks more gorgeous than this Nike sponsored car

    The reason why the old IS was such a big hit in the UAE was because it sold for AED 165k with the body kit and all the options.

  • Marwan

    Dear Mash, thanks for the great review. From your experience how much km in general the engine needs to break in as I bought recently a new ML350 and still did not get exactly the pronounced performance?
    On the otherhand, the new IS is a great car in all measures really in and out and I am considering in the future the coupe convertible version. cheers..:)

  • EHK

    Dear Mashfique,

    Thank you for your efforts on reviewing cars on drivearabia.com

    I’m a regular visitor to the website, residing in Oman.

    I wonder why all your car acceleration timing figures are more than claimed or advertised by car companies?

    In fact, car companies tend to be more conservative with their acceleration timing figures, (ie: they claim slower timing figures than the actual).

    Once these cars are tested professionally, the figures turn out to be less than what the car manufacturers have claimed.

    VW GTi MK7 is officially to hit 100km/h in 6.5 sec, however, I was able to achieve a figure of 5.9 sec.

    Thank you….

  • Adnan Khan

    Mash it’s better next time you just write bluntly 0-60 what manufacturing companies claim.. Just like Jeremy Clarkson upfront says this car does 0-60 in 3.5 Seconds :D

  • Reza

    Just go and buy g37 if u care of 0 to 100 coz for sure it catch is and gs both. And who ever wanna strat like no lexus is faster bla bla bla just check the pictures on drive arabia meet the 6 one than u will see i catch the gs with my g35 that has 150 k milage

  • M7md

    Why does it say 7.3 on the page and here it says 10.9 for fuel consumption? Thats very stupd and confusing i dont understand

    • Alesius

      Hey smart guy. The buyer guide has the manufacturer ratings and these road tests have the tested numbers. If you don’t understand, then don’t call it stupid.

  • Sami

    Hi mashfique

    What about the is250? Your views on that since it is aed 15 k less than the is350

  • Sami

    Thanks mashfique

    The problem is the budget. So you would not recommend is250 at all. I did test drive the 250 and well it was alright (aed175k).

  • Apurva

    I am interested in buying the convertible version of IS350. I am stuck between FSport version and Platinum version. The only big difference that comes with Platinum version is radar cruise control with Pre Crash safety system and Mark Levinson Audio system.

    What do you recommend?

  • HADI BIN FAISSAL

    THE FEEL OF MY ISF 350 VROOOM VROOOOOOOM OH WAIT GOT GOOSEBUMPS ALREADY!!! SERIOUSLY A CRAZY INSANE SEDAN LEXUS HAS MADE
    HATS OFF :D

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