Never out of place, and never out of sight. That is the beauty of owning a Lexus IS. There are some things common to many human beings, regardless of their creed. A sense of style and good taste, and products that are like an extension of their personality or lifestyle are just some of these. Lives of modern men and women are in a permanent state of transition: from work to the gym and then on to the grocery stores… or from doing school runs to golf days and football matches.
The 2017 Lexus IS takes it all in its stride – it looks sporty without taking away from its class. Locally, the Lexus IS line-up is available as an IS 200t with the recently launched two-litre turbo motor, and the IS 350 F Sport utilising the revered 3.5-litre quad cam V6. There’s an option of an E or EX grade for the 200t. The big news though is that these 2017 models receive a more aggressive exterior and an upscaled interior with updated infotainment system.
The upgrades also include a more imposing grille with new headlights. The rear gets more pronounced LED taillights and all-new rectangular-styled chrome exhaust tips. The revised 2017 Lexus IS range follows a celebration of one million global sales. However, it’s not difficult to understand its global success: the IS model line-up starts out with features we appreciate every day, including comfortable, quiet cabins and confidence-inspiring driving manners.
These are all packaged in a body that is just the right size: big enough for occupants and their luggage yet compact enough to make life simple in standard parking spaces and tight city driving. The entire front fascia of the IS has undergone a transformation, highlighted by new headlamps, larger air intakes in the front bumper, and a daring evolution of the Lexus spindle grille. The air intake elements seem to flow off the fenders and frame a new grille that folds back at a higher point, changing its proportions and emphasising a more road-hugging stance.
The reshaped hood appears more sculptured, with the raised centre portion flowing rearward from the top of the spindle grille and standard LED headlamps. Beneath these, the L-theme LED daytime running lights give a dramatic daytime glow. On the IS F Sport, the grille features an exclusive three-dimensional F-mesh pattern, with jet-black metallic coating that is also used on the functional brake ducts. The IS model change uses new LED headlamps. The lamps now extend inward to bring out their characteristics and enhance continuity with the DRLs, while sharpening the headlamp profile. E and EX grade models have a single LED low/high beam headlamp and bulb-type turn-signal lamp.
The F Sport has a three-lamp low-beam system and separate LED high-beam lamps as well as LED signal lamps. The DRLs/clearance lamps are LED on all models. The three-lamp low-beam unit fitted to the F Sport is arranged in an L-shape, indicative of Lexus’ new generation design to represent the evolution of the vehicle. Further reinforcing and evolving the L-shape, IS rear combination lamps have been redesigned with the turn signal lamps moved to the inside to create a wider look. Layered L-shapes with bold lines create tension to accentuate the firmly planted stance.
A sense of depth has been achieved by utilising three overlain L-shapes. Many carefully considered improvements have been made to the new IS’s cabin. For example, the multimedia display screen has been increased in size from seven to 10.3” (EX and F Sport grades), and a new, high-resolution monitor provides a larger and clearer image of the multimedia system’s various functions. Lexus has also improved the user-friendliness of the IS interior. A customise mode has been added to the Drive Mode Select for F Sport that is activated by pressing the dial switch, and the Active Cruise Control switch has been simplified to one-step activation with a prolonged (at least one second) press of the main cruise control switch. An ‘Enter’ button has been added to the side of the Remote Touch Interface (EX and F SPORT) on the centre console, making it easier to use. On the centre of the dashboard, the audio and ventilation control panel has been revised so that it fits neatly between the knee bolsters; a new hairline finish to its surface provides both a high-quality feel and improved appearance. New stitching on the top of the instrument binnacle hood adds to the sporting feel of the cockpit, as do refinements made to the speedometer and tachometer of the E and EX grades. There are also new cup holders, a larger, leather-wrapped and stitched palm rest for the Remote Touch Interface and new dial markings for the analogue clock on the dashboard. Both E and EX grades get a new interior colour: Chateau.
The IS instrument panel and meter cluster have been redesigned to increase cockpit refinement, sportiness and a sense of luxury. Black metallic paint has been adopted for the ornamentation at the back of the displays on top of the instrument panel. The bezel area of the clock has been changed to two-tone silver and black, and a premium panel with stitching has been adopted on top of the meter cluster. The content layout of the Multi-Information Display (MID) has also been improved. The tab display area at the top of the MID now shows ambient temperature as the default display, with the other displays accessible using the switch on the steering wheel. The 2017 IS model line-up continues with three grades, including the IS 200t E and EX, and IS 350 F Sport – all available in RWD.
The IS 200t models feature a 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with intercooler. This super-smooth powerplant produces 180kW and quickly builds up a wide torque plateau of 350Nm@4400rpm. Variable Valve Timing intelligent – Wide (VVTi-W) allows the engine to switch between the Otto and Atkinson combustion cycles to maximise efficiency. The D-4ST fuel injection system combines a high-pressure direct fuel injection system with a low-pressure port-injection system. The IS 200t comes equipped exclusively with the eight-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission that integrates advanced G-force Artificial Intelligence (G-AI) system to choose gears intuitively.
Steering wheel paddle shifters are also available for those who prefer to do the shift themselves. The IS 350 F Sport delivers dazzling performance from a 3.5-litre V6 that produces 233kW and 378Nm of peak torque. This model uses the eight-speed SPDS automatic transmission. A Drive Mode Select system features up to four driving modes to tailor the car’s combination of economy, comfort, performance and handling characteristics. All IS sedans feature Eco, Normal, and Sport modes. But the F Sport also adds Sport S+, Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS), and Adaptive Variable Suspension for optimal handling and superior ride quality.
The front double wishbone suspension has a new forged aluminium lower arm assembly which delivers a 49% increase in rigidity compared to the steel member it replaces, and a new No1 bush. Together these elements offer a marked improvement in steering response at cruising speeds. The front system also has a new upper support bush, a revised coil spring rate, new shock absorber components and a revised damper setting.