Cars

The Lexus IS Sports Sedan is So Special We Had to See it for Ourselves

It was bred on its own test course patterned after Nürburgring.
IMAGE Lexus Philippines
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Lexus Philippines’s exclusive unveiling of its all-new IS sports sedan at the Manila showroom in Bonifacio Global City was special. It was the first physical launch held by any car brand during this pandemic. As expected, the company had to make sure all the safety precautions were done, including swab tests, social distancing and a nurse station to make sure everyone going inside the Lexus bubble was safe and secure.

The brand introduced some new models including the LC500 convertible and LM MPV variants. But this was the new IS sedan and it needed a proper launch. 

Photo by Lexus Philippines.

The IS sports sedan was introduced in 1999, and with it, Lexus ushered a new genre of luxury compact sports sedans that car enthusiasts have enjoyed and loved for over two decades. These high performance sedans have the gusto and driving dynamics good enough for the race track and yet can also be very supple when it comes to every day driving. This writer managed to test the previous two generations of the IS at Clark International Speedway many years back and hope to try out the new IS soon. 

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What makes this new IS model interesting is the fact that it was bred on its own test course patterned after the famously challenging and historic Nürburgring Nordschleife course in Germany. This is the first Lexus model to use the $2.8 billion 600-hectare Shimoyama Technical Center Test Track. It is Lexus and its parent company Toyota’s specially designed course that mimics the famous German race track.

Photo by Lexus Philippines.

The Nürburgring track used to be a proving ground for many Lexus vehicles so it made sense for the company to mimic this track and use the natural terrain and varying elevations to make the course as challenging and comprehensive as possible, as well as tune its vehicles to every conceivable road condition.

Lexus says that Shimoyama is a road course that duplicates every possible kind of on-road scenario in the world—from every type of corner radius, every conceivable bank angle, and every kind of elevation change that you can possibly encounter. There is a road where vertical changes are so severe and abrupt that finding the proper suspension damping setting is critical. This is to benchmark the handling and stability of the vehicle in high speeds.

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“With the aim of making ever-better cars, we have continued to make various efforts in ‘feeling the road’ and ‘conversing with cars’ through driving tests around the world, including our Five Continent Drive Project and the Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race,” said Lexus Master Driver and Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda. “Based on such experiences, we have replicated a variety of roads in the world at the new test course. In addition to conducting driving tests all over the world, and with the replication of severe driving conditions at the new test course, we intend to thoroughly hone every one of our models and develop the types of cars that epitomize the true joy of driving.”

Photo by Lexus Philippines.

We have yet to test the new IS on open roads, but visually, the overall look is a graduation of the previous generation IS. Based on the tale of the tape, it has grown a bit in size and its interior has a similar layout as the previous generation’s. One can also expect the same level of Takumi craftsmanship from a Lexus.

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On the suspension, the IS continues to use the same double wishbone type front suspension and multi-link type rear suspension with coil springs and swing-valve shock absorbers and stabilizer bar as its bigger ES mid-sized sedan siblings. This gives the compact IS models its luxurious ride without sacrificing road-holding performance.

Lexus PH currently has two variants of the IS sedan: the F-Sport variant which is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 Four Cam 24-valve DOHC engine that is rated at 315PS of power and 380Nm of torque and a hybrid 300h variant which is powered by a 2.5-liter L4 16-Valve DOHC Dual VVT-I engine rated at 181PS of power and 221 Nm of torque. 

The IS 350 F Sport is priced at P3.8 million while the IS 300h Premier is priced at P3.328 million.

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