The All-New Lexus IS Is Boldly Driven to Perform

Lexus & Sharp

We learned many unexpected lessons this year, but among the best and most surprising has been newfound appreciation for the open road. Going for a drive has the power to transport us literally and figuratively. It gets you out of the house, but it also gets you out of your head, letting you focus on the speed and sensations and, ultimately, the pure thrill of driving.

Not every car has that power, of course, but one look at the bold new Lexus IS should clue you in to the fact that this is, in many ways, the opposite of every other car out there. It’s a daring new take on what a sports sedan should be: a leader, not a follower, untethered to pre-conceived notions and old benchmarks.

Lexus is not following in anyone’s footsteps here. The brand has always been uniquely obsessed with the finer points of driving performance. It’s part of the company’s DNA, so much so that, when it came time to build the new 2021 Lexus IS, the company went to extreme lengths to ensure a direct link between car and driver.

Lexus is aiming to codify the unique feel of its cars into something called the Lexus Driving Signature. In the new IS, that translates into a sport sedan that’s more balanced, refined, in control and confident than ever before. This is music to our ears, because these are precisely the attributes that make a great drivers’ car. This is the sort of car that puts you in the moment, sends shivers up your spine and turns every corner into an entire world. That feeling is what pulls you out of bed on a Sunday morning to go for a drive before the sun is even up.

The company used its $2.3B new Shimoyama test track in Japan’s Aichi Prefecture to hone its new sport sedan over countless tire-shredding laps. That work led to such wonderfully obsessive engineering details as: lightweight wheel hub bolts inspired by the LFA supercar and forged aluminum suspension components. For ultimate performance, the IS 350’s F SPORT Model 3 package adds Adaptive Variable Suspension and 19-inch forged BBS alloys finished in matte black. (They save 2 kg each!)

Such obsessiveness and attention to detail perfectly exemplifies Lexus’ famous “relentless pursuit of perfection.” And, yes, those details are also something you could absolutely show off to jealous friends.

Under the hood Lexus has ensured the new IS has plenty of humble-brag worthy stats. Power in the new IS goes to the ground via rear- or all-wheel drive. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled motor, updated for 2021, puts out 241 horsepower. However, Lexus says that, for buyers who crave maximum power, they’ve developed two 3.5-litre V6 that’s good for up to 311 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, with all-wheel drive for improved traction on icy roads.

That much power, in combination with the car’s unique feel and handling, is more than enough to make the Lexus one of those cars that can transport a driver in the figurative sense, not just the literal one. The new 2021 Lexus IS is ambitious, bold, and the sort of car that makes us excited about driving all over again. The open road beckons.

Racing pedigree

When it comes to performance, actions speak louder than words. That’s why Lexus has always put its cars to the ultimate test, competing against rivals at the highest levels of international motorsport. Suffice to say the company’s trophy cabinet must be overflowing. These are some of the world-class racing machines that have won glory for Lexus.

Lexus RC F GT3: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, 2019.

Lexus RC F GT: Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, 2015.

Lexus LFA Code X: 24 Hours Nürburgring endurance race, 2014.

Lexus IS F CCSR: Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, 2012.