2021 Lexus IS arrives for another fight in the compact luxury segment
To strengthen its weak footing in the compact luxury segment, Lexus revealed the 2021 Lexus IS sports sedan with a refreshed design and more tech. The Japanese sedan had its own strengths but was drowned in the immense popularity of the German trio in that segment, the Mercedes Benz C-Class, BMW 3-Series and the Audi A4.
The 2021 Lexus IS sees little visual changes as it’s actually just a major facelift, but it comes together as a more cohesive design. The headlamps are single units and are now angled sharply towards the spindle grill, adding some purpose to their design, unlike the split headlamps of the outgoing model. The grill itself is revised to sport a “three-dimensional” look. In the IS F-Sport model, most of the elements upfront get a blacked-out treatment for a sportier look.
The tail lamps get connected to each other by a thin light strip that runs across the width of the car.
The IS has 18-inch wheels as standard while 19-inch BBS wheels are optional.
Overall, the 2021 Lexus IS grows more handsome and more in line with the design of the bigger ES and LS sedans.
The cabin does not see much in terms of design changes, but now has an 8.0-inch touchscreen comes as standard while a bigger 10.3-inch screen is an option. Clearly LExus has ditched the fiddly mouse-joystick thingy they had and replaced it with a touchpad alongside the touchscreen that is now an iPad-like unit mounted closer for easier reach.
Connectivity options like Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa are all offered as standard.
They have also fiddled with the safety suite. A standard “Lexus Safety System+ 2.5” offers automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection and a pre-collision warning system. Wave more money for options and they will add adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, road sign assist, and lane departure alert with lane-centering technology.
Though the 2021 Lexus IS rides on the same chassis as the outgoing model, the boffins at Lexus have fiddled with the suspension to provide a sportier feel. Many parameters of the suspension have been tweaked for a slightly sportier drive. If that’s not enough, you can add the optional Dynamic Handling Package with adaptive suspension.
The area where the engineers didn’t work on is the engine bay. There is no change there whatsoever. The turbo 2.0-litre engine continues to function in the base IS 300 producing 241 hp and 350 Nm and hooked up to a rear-wheel-drive system. The more powerful IS 350 houses a 3.5-litre V6 with 311 hp and 379 Nm. Both models use an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Also, if you need an F Sport trim, you must upgrade to the IS 350 as the base Lexus IS 300 will not offer that trim any more.
The value of the 2021 Lexus IS sedan even with this refreshed design and added tech, will be harder to explain, as the current model is growing a bit too long in the tooth since its arrival in 2014. It has its own strengths like the goodwill of the Lexus brand as well as the bulletproof reliability. But in a competitive segment which is fast losing its foothold to the raging tsunami of premium crossovers, it may be too small a weapon. The 2021 Lexus IS is expected to hit UAE and GCC showroom floors by the end of this year.