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The South African line-up for the re-imagined new 2021 Lexus IS sports sedan has been unveiled, delivering a new level of luxury as standard in addition to a core focus on evocative design, imaginative technology and leading driving dynamics.

Starting from R841 300,00 with the IS 300h EX grade and available to pre-order as early as week one of April from Lexus dealerships, the new IS will surely garner the attention of enthusiasts.

What’s new for South Africa is that for the very first time, Lexus has decided to launch IS as a hybrid-only model. The hybrid market has shown immense growth on a global scale in the past five years and the shift from diesel to alternative-propulsion vehicles is expected to keep growing at rapid rate.

It is with this information in mind that Lexus South Africa plans to leverage its existing dominance in the hybrid-electric market to enlarge their share even more. At the same time, Lexus will position hybrids as performance and technology-rich vehicles. Lexus launches three model grades in hybrid: IS 300h EX, IS 300h SE and IS 300 F Sport.

LEXUS FIRSTS

Features that become standard on the Lexus IS for the first time include 18-inch alloy wheels for the EX and SE (19-inch for the F Sport), an electric park brake (replacing foot-operated), new 10.3-inch touch-display with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™, a pre-collision system for the SE grade and F Sport featuring daytime/night-time pedestrian detection plus daytime cyclist detection, all-speed active cruise control (SE and F Sport), lane tracing assist (SE and F Sport), blind-spot monitor (SE and F Sport), rear cross-traffic alert+brake, as well as a panoramic view monitor for the SE and F Sport when reversing.

This is an addition to smart entry and start, heated- and power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control, 10-speaker audio for the EX grade and 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound for SE and F Sport grades. The top-spec models also come standard with satellite navigation, voice control and LED headlamps with automatic high-beam.

The significant expansion of leading luxury- and driver-assist technology is further leveraged by enhanced body rigidity, lighter suspension components and a wider front and rear track – all coming together as the first Lexus tuned at the company’s new purpose-built ‘mini Nurburgring’ test facility in Shimoyama, Japan.

IS 300h SE customers have the luxury of a moon roof which comes standard for the grade.

The models achieve a total system output of 164kW. The IS has a combined-cycle fuel consumption from as low as 5.2 litres per 100 kilometres. The 0-100 sprint is dispatched in 8.7 seconds with a top speed of 200 km/h. The IS boasts a petrol-hybrid 2.5 litre CVT engine that achieves a maximum power of 133kW @ 6000rpm and maximum torque of 221Nm @ 4200-5400rpm.

The IS F Sport is alluring and assertive – Lexus designers didn’t hold back when giving the range topper its coupe-like silhouette and dramatic rendition of the signature spindle grille that shows even greater intricacy in the design. Developing the F Sport grille is a work of art to achieve the desired texture and interaction with light.

The front grille features the iconic mesh pattern that has been used on all F Sport models, complementing the brand’s sporty image. The lower grille construction incorporates RC-F inspired air intakes, also strengthening its sporty image.

The Automatic High Beam (AHB) Headlamps on the F Sport grade also features the new slim design, along with three newly-designed high-beam projector lamps and integrated L-shaped DRLs.

F Sport exclusive items heighten the sporty driving image, which include the F Sport emblem on the front fender, piano-black garnish on the front grille and lower bumper, as well as exclusive 19-inch Aluminium wheels (previously 18-inch) that feature a premium dark-metallic coating.

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A TRUE DRIVER’S CAR…

Befitting the status of the new IS as a focused driver’s car, the IS F Sport and SE grades offer more advanced specifications with the F Sport model offering dynamic hybrid vehicle performance.

For the first time on an IS F Sport, 19-inch alloy wheels are standard, in addition to an F Sport body kit and spoiler, F Sport scuff plates and ornamentation, high-grade LED headlamps, five-mode Drive Select (Eco, Normal, Sport S, Sport S+ and Custom), Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), F Sport leather-accented trim, sports pedals and seats with driver memory settings.

Lexus South Africa Vice President of Sale and Marketing, Glenn Crompton says the new Lexus IS will re-invigorate the medium sedan class with its stunning focus on three key attributes: “An intense focus on evocative design, imaginative technology and leading driving dynamics, will help ensure a new generation of Lexus customers are welcomed into IS sports sedan ownership.

“The hybrid direction and sports focus of the new IS, alongside the luxurious ES, deliver two distinct personalities for Lexus customers to select from in this segment.”

NEW LEXUS IS – EVOCATIVE DESIGN

The IS reimagines the sports sedan concept with a low and wide stance, the sleek proportions of a four-door coupe, slimmer headlights and a lower, sharper side character line that combine to express a centre of gravity closer to the ground.

Gently sloped rear-quarter pillars, which help form a sleek cabin silhouette, wrap around from the sides, contrasting with muscular rear fenders – to create a fast and aggressive look.

This is further emphasised by single-blade rear combination lights sporting an “L” motif and a sharper overall contour created by the character line around the boot lid.

Materials and ornamentation have been changed inside to complement the new 10.3-inch touch-display, which has been moved forward 150mm compared to the previous IS.

Elegant ochre interior trim complements a choice of black or dark rose on the SE and EX grades, while the F Sport is available in black, white and flare red – all with satin chrome ornamentation. New 17-speaker Mark Levinson® audio, which is standard on the IS F Sport and SE, also raises the bar compared with the speaker system in the previous IS.

NEW LEXUS IS – IMAGINATIVE TECHNOLOGY

The new Lexus IS matches or exceeds the active safety technology featured in the current flagship Lexus LS.

Standard on the SE and F Sport grades, the new Lexus Safety System+ supports pre-collision warning (from approximately 10 to 180km/h), pre-collision brake assist (from approximately 30 to 80km/h with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, or approximately 30 to 180km/h with a detected preceding or stopped vehicle), and pre-collision braking (from approximately 10 to 80km/h with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, or approximately 10 to 180km/h with a detected preceding or stopped vehicle).

These systems are designed to work with both daytime and night-time pedestrian detection and daytime cyclist detection.

At an intersection, the pre-collision system is designed to provide a warning alert, then braking, if a driver is turning in front of a detected oncoming vehicle in the opposite lane or pedestrian in the opposite direction. It is also the first Lexus to offer emergency steering assist (ESA), which is designed to automatically apply additional steering torque to assist the driver in manoeuvring within its lane around an unforeseen pedestrian (for example) walking ahead.

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NEW LEXUS IS – LEADING DRIVING DYNAMICS

Never before has such a focus been placed on enhancing the renowned rear-wheel drive dynamics of a new Lexus IS.

The new IS becomes the first Lexus to debut the “Lexus Driving Signature” that will become the development standard for all future Lexus models. The “Lexus Driving Signature” is defined by linear vehicle operation that is faithful to a driver’s intentions, providing seamless transition from braking to steering and acceleration through a corner. These Lexus dynamic values were achieved by utilising the country-road test course at the company’s new technical centre in Shimoyama, Japan, which opened in 2019.

The country-road test course is based on many years of Lexus experience of driving on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, famous throughout the world for its gruelling driving conditions.

It was designed to take advantage of the local topography, featuring approximately a 75-metre change in elevation, a wide range of curves and a variety of road surfaces. By repeatedly subjecting both vehicle and engineers to daily tests in this severe driving environment, Lexus was able to devise an ever-higher dimension of vehicle performance.

Substantial chassis changes include a 45mm-wider front and 50mm-wider rear track for greater vehicle turn-in and stability. Body rigidity has been improved, including the addition of bracing connecting the front-pillar section and apron member, contributing to the enhanced steering response and cornering ability.

For the front side members, the welding patch has been made narrower and additional spot weld points have been applied to increase the panel joint rigidity, providing excellent handling stability – including steering responsiveness and road surface feedback.

Additional welding spots and laser-screw welding techniques have also been adopted elsewhere, improving rear rail-joint rigidity in particular and ensuring a tight and planted cornering feel.

Hot stamp, high-tensile steel sheets and aluminium has been employed, enabling reduced panel thickness, thereby contributing to structural simplification and reduced weight. Paring down outer body panel weight also reduces inertia movement when cornering, improving agility through successive bends. It has also enabled new sound insulating materials to be employed behind the dashboard to realise excellent refinement.

The advanced double-wishbone front suspension now features lighter and stronger components. This includes a new high-stress material for the coil springs (20% weight reduction), an upper control arm material change from steel to aluminium (18% weight reduction), a reshaped and re-engineered bound stopper to reduce shock, and wheel bolt fasteners for improved axle rigidity and reduced unsprung mass. The multi-link rear suspension also includes a coil spring material change (20% weight reduction), second control arm material change from steel to aluminium (20% weight reduction) and a new rear stabiliser bar (17% weight reduction).

Adaptive Variable Suspension on F Sport boasts anti-dive and anti-squat control, as well as roll-attitude control. It even includes unsprung mass vibration damping control – where a higher damping force is maintained when unsprung resonance is detected based on speed-sensor signal output, thus helping enhance road holding with no loss of ride comfort.

In addition to Normal mode, it includes Sport S+ damping for tighter damping control during spirited driving. Active Cornering Assist (ACA) is newly adopted on all models, which is designed to maintain the most ideal vehicle posture when cornering by imperceptibly braking individual wheels to maintain the driver’s intended line.

SPOILT FOR CHOICE

The 2021 Lexus IS is offered in a palette of 10 exterior colours to accentuate its stunning lines. Three of those colours – Solar Storm Red, Poseidon Blue and White Nova are exclusive to the F Sport. The EX and SE have an additional two exclusive colours – White Quartz and Morello Red.

LEXUS IS PRICING AND SERVICE INFORMATION

The Lexus IS models retail from R841 300 for the EX grade, R899 800 for the SE grade and R916 100 for the F Sport. The entire IS range boasts a best-in-class 7-year/105 000km Warranty and Full Maintenance Plan. The vehicle service intervals are pegged at every 15 000km, alternatively once a year.