Lexus recently revealed details of the new 2021 IS, which was tested and developed at new technical center in Shimoyama, Japan, with a focus on enhancing driving performance through rigidity, chassis and suspension enhancements.
One of the first things engineers targeted, Lexus says, was enhancing body rigidity. Taking cues from the Lexus LFA, this was done in key areas such as reinforcing the radiator side supports, increasing the number of front-side-member weld points, and optimizing reinforcement structures from the C-pillars to the sides of the roof. The increased rigidity not only helps reduce unwanted noise and vibration, but it also helps improve riding comfort and driving performance with enhanced response to steering input.
The new IS will be available with larger 19-inch wheels to improve cornering force and provide a greater contact patch with the road. Engineers revised the suspension layout and front pickup points to help accommodate the larger tire-and-wheel package. Overall, two different 19-inch wheels are available on F SPORT models, including a unique BBS wheel specific to the F SPORTs equipped with the Dynamic Handling Package.
Complementing the enhancements to overall rigidity, multiple refinements were made to the suspension setup. The new IS features coil springs that are 20 percent lighter than the outgoing model. New A-arms are employed as well that feature a forged aluminum material versus the outgoing steel composition, resulting in an 18 percent weight reduction. Engineers also opted for a new material for the suspension stabilizer bar to optimize the diameter and thickness to provide a 17 percent weight reduction.
With unsprung weight reduced, engineers equipped the IS with new swing-valve shock absorbers equipped with ultralow-velocity valves in their pistons to manage oil flow in response to the most minor of road irregularities. New bound stoppers are also employed to help manage the sprung weight more effectively for enhanced ride comfort.
The rear-wheel drive IS 300 features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged and intercooled inline four-cylinder engine, delivering 241 horsepower 258 lb-ft of torque. The IS 300 AWD is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 260 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. The IS 350, in either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 311 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of peak torque. The rear-wheel drive model uses the same eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission found in the IS 300 RWD, while the AWD version sends power through a six-speed automatic.
The IS F SPORT lineup is restructured in the 2021 model year, as F SPORTs will only be offered on the IS 350, powered by the 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine. F SPORT features a host of visual and performance cues, including a unique front bumper with functional aerodynamic enhancements, rear bumper, grille surround, rear lip spoiler, rocker molding and more. Along with F SPORT 19-inch wheels, a unique center cap and larger rear tires for added performance (265/35R19), they are also equipped with a cool air intake with sound generator and an F SPORT exhaust and diffuser. In addition, unique F SPORT badges adorn the sides and rear of the vehicle as well.
Inside the new IS, stainless-steel scuff plates adorn the door sills. The front seats offer standard heated and ventilated functions. A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique center ornament, perforated leather-wrapped shifter and F SPORT combination instrumentation meter await the driver, as do unique F SPORT accelerator pedal, brake pedal and footrest. The front seats, now available in Circuit Red, offer available two-way power adjustable lumbar support as well as four-way adjustable headrests. Unique F SPORT door accents are highlighted with black geometric film window switch surrounds. Active Sound Control has been improved to further enhance the exhilarating performance notes of the V6 engine while reducing unpleasant tones.
F SPORT models can be further augmented with the addition of a Dynamic Handling Package (DHP) that includes Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). For 2021, engineers have optimized the damping force of the AVS system to help enhance performance. In addition, the DHP also includes lighter 19-inch forged alloy BBS wheels finished in matte black. The 19-inch BBS wheels are approximately 4 pounds lighter per wheel compared to the standard 19-inch F SPORT wheel.
The new IS is slightly wider, with muscular fenders that extend to accommodate the larger available 19-inch wheels and larger diameter tires and features a newly designed spindle grill. F SPORT models also feature a grille-bottom air intake that allows air to flow through to assist in cooling the brakes. Additional exterior updates include new headlamps, rocker panels and a lowered rear deck.
The interior features standard NuLuxe-trimmed seating, with 10-way power driver and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seats, a dual-zone automatic climate control system with touch-sensitive controls, an available power moonroof and SmartAccess with push button start.
An 8-inch touchscreen, nearly 3 inches closer to the driver for easy access to the controls, comes standard, while a new 10.3-inch touchscreen is available on vehicles equipped with navigation or the available Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System . The new multimedia system features Apple CarPlay compatibility, Android Auto compatibility and Amazon Alexa integration.
The Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System is also been enhanced, with the previous system expanding from 15 speakers with 835 watts of power to a 17-speaker system with a new amplifier offering an impressive 1,800 watts.