Lexus has released the details of its all-new IS sports sedan today at the North American International Auto Show. As before, it will be available in both rear and all-wheel drive, as well as with three different six-cylinder engines. More so, the F SPORT will also continue in its evolved form as well.
The design is all-new, highlighted by the IS adopting what’s quickly becoming the new face of Lexus…the spindle grille. With the IS, the grille comes in an unique black parallelogram design (IS 250 and 350), and in mesh for the F SPORT. As with the industry moving towards thin strips of LED lights, Lexus as chosen to place them underneath the headlights, instead of integrating them.
Moving to the sides and the rear, and the overall theme here is “sweeping”…particularly behind the rear doors, which neatly ties into the rear of the vehicle. If you look closely, you will see that the trunk lid has been inspired by the BMW 7-series, as well as other high-end luxury vehicles. Twin exhaust pipes round out the rear of the vehicle.
On the performance end, the new IS benefits from upgrades in the engine, transmission, and steering departments. More specifically, the transmission is the eight-speed Sport Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic transmission that was lifted from the IS-F. The main benefits are quicker shifts, full torque converter lockup and throttle blips in manual mode. Also, the IS will feature the all-new G force Artificial Intelligence control in Sport mode, a first for Lexus.
The system will automatically select the optimal gear and downshift patten, and will hold the selected gear through the corner. Coupled with the increased sway rigidity of the double-wishbone suspension, along with new laser screw welding and adhesive techniques that allow the structure to be more rigid without adding performance-killing weight, this IS was designed with a different perspective.
“I adopted an entirely different approach to the development of the all-new IS,” said Junichi Furuyama, IS Chief Engineer. “Specifically, it was to make an entertaining driving experience a major premise behind all aspects of performance.” More specifically, “the conventional approach involves developing each individual aspect in the hope that they will combine to offer an engaging driving experience. By contrast, development of the new IS flipped this process on its head, first establishing the pleasurable driving experience owners desire, and then developing the individual performance elements to support it.”
To make the steering (based on the one in the Lexus GS) more engaging and communicative, the new IS will come with the Driver Mode Select system, which features up to four driving modes that can be manually adjusted by the driver. The Drive Select Mode works to optimise the vehicle systems by maximising the preferred combination of performance, handling, comfort, and fuel economy.
The F SPORT takes it up a level from the last generation. In addition to enhanced exterior and interior designs, it also features Electric Power Steering (EPS), Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), and and Variable Gear Ratio Steering VGRS, also available on the IS 350), which all work to maximise the drivability of the BMW M-fighter. Interior bits include a driver’s meter cluster with a moving centre ring, F SPORT steering wheel, shift knob, aluminum pedals, and scuff plates. The driver’s meter cluster and the unique 18-inch wheels are both inspired by the LFA.
Speaking of the outgoing LFA, inside the IS 250 and 350, one will instantly see the influence of the outgoing Lexus LFA in the driver’s cockpit. Starting with the steering wheel that has been lowered, along with the increased reach of the steering adjustment, all pointing towards a more engaged driving experience…similar to that of being in a race car. Additionally, to increase the space and comfort for all passengers, the wheelbase has been increased by three inches.
Another benefit of this is the enhanced ride quality, compared to the previous generation. Extending the wheelbase, as well as a thinner front seat design, has resulted in an additional three inches of much-needed knee room for rear passengers. This will also appeal to parents with young children that are looking for something to replace their sports car, while being able to haul the kiddos around. Speaking of the rear seats, the new IS also comes with lockable 60/60 split folding seats, which is a first.
Another nice amenities include a high-quality analog clock with surface-emitting illumination, along with a climate control with electrostatic switches, a Lexus first. This allows the driver/front passenger to change the temperature of the cabin with the touch of a finger. It’s nice to see the automatic climate control adjustability being advanced beyond pressing a button, or turning a knob.
For the tech-savvy drivers out there, the Lexus Display Audio (and the optional Remote-Touch controlled Navigation) multimedia systems feature complementary real-time weather and traffic information that is delivered through the HD radio, all without a subscription. Not only is this a first for Lexus, but a first for the industry as well. On the safety front, in addition to the prerequisite multiple air bags (10 to be exact, including rear seat airbags), the IS will also feature a multitude of safety and security systems such as the Automatic High Beam (AHB) headlamp system, a Lane Departure Alert (LDA) system, a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) and a Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA) system.
The Automatic High Beam (AHB) is Lexus-speak for their system that automatically lowers the intensity of the headlights whenever the camera detects the headlights of an oncoming or preceding vehicle. The LDA, BSM, and RCTA systems all work in conjunction to help the driver avoid collisions with another vehicle and/or another person. Of course, being alert and observant works as well.
The all-new Lexus IS goes on sale in mid-2013. For even more information, please read the press release below.
Photo Credit: Newspress