Sporty, smooth and unmistakeably Lexus, the IS has undergone its most significant revisions since the current generation model was launched in 2005.
Changes for the 2011 model year, to be formally revealed at the Paris motor show, are not simply a matter of sharper styling: Lexus has gone to the heart of the ownership experience to make the IS an even more appealing prospect, not least to those choosing it as a company car.
Central to this strategy is the introduction of the new IS 200d, which delivers improved fuel economy, lower emissions and reduced tax bills. Replacing the previous IS 220d, it is available to order now, priced from £24,350 (IS 200d SE) on the road.
The V6 petrol engine featured in the IS 250 and IS 250C coupe-convertible with six-speed automatic transmission has also been revised to meet future Euro5 emissions standards, achieving better fuel economy and CO2 emissions with no penalty in performance.
Focus of the styling changes is the F-Sport grade, which now echoes even more loudly the looks of its ultra-high-performance sister, the IS F, to strengthen its appeal among younger drivers. Meanwhile all IS models equipped with high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights gain LED daytime running lights and across the range there are new wheel designs, new rear light designs and a revised choice of exterior colours.
New IS 200d with enhanced driving quality
Replacing the previous IS 220d, the new IS 200d delivers stronger fuel economy, lower CO2 emissions and a more refined and smoother drive.
The new 148bhp version of the 2.2-litre diesel engine benefits from detailed engineering revisions and is equipped with a diesel particulate filter (DPF) to meet Euro 5 emissions standards and enhance the engine’s driving quality.
The changes include a re-shaped combustion chamber and the use of new-generation piezoelectric fuel injectors to give a more efficient, cleaner and complete fuel burn. Pressure in the common rail injection system has been increased. a higher flow exhaust gas recirculation valve has been introduced and the adoption of a new oil-cooled, variable nozzle turbocharger improves torque performance at low speeds and cuts overall engine noise.
Maximum power of 148bhp is delivered at 3,600rpm, with peak torque of 340Nm on tap from 2,000rpm, allowing for nought to 62mph acceleration in 10.2 seconds. Combined cycle fuel consumption is 55.4mpg and CO2 emissions are 134g/km, compared to 50.4mpg and 148g/km for the IS 220d.
As well as saving money at the pumps, owners enjoy a lower annual road tax charge – Band E rather than F for Vehicle Excise Duty. For company car tax payers there is a further bonus in the reduction of the Benefit-in-Kind tax rating from 21 to 18 per cent for the new model.
IS 250 automatic and IS 250C
For the 2011 model year the IS 250 becomes and automatic-only model, with revisions to the powertrain that ensure compliance with Euro 5 emissions standards.
Power and torque are unchanged from the super-smooth V6 are unchanged at 205bhp and 252Nm, but combined cycle fuel consumption improves from 31.7 to 33.6mpg, with a concurrent fall in CO2 output from 209 to 194g/km. As a result the model’s BiK tax rating is cut from 30 to 27 per cent.
Similarly, the improved engine is also under the bonnet of the 2011 IS 250C coupe-cabriolet, with an improvement in combined cycle performance to 30.7mpg and a 6g/km reduction in CO2 emissions to 213g/km.
Revised IS F-Sport
Changes to the IS 250 and 220d F-Sport models’ exterior and interior make them even more of a stand-out choice, heavily influenced by the styling of the ultra-high-performance IS F.
For 2011 F-Sport specification includes a new deep front spoiler with faired-in fog lights, new grille design and a rear spoiler with integrated stop light. The new-design 18-inch alloy wheels have a dark silver finish and black centre Lexus roundel, directly inspired by the IS F.
Inside the sports factor continues with F-Sport steering wheel, gear lever and sports pedals and front seats finished in leather and Alcantara. Extra touches of titanium-effect trim and a dark, anthracite roof liner are also introduced.
New specifications and options
Revisions elsewhere in the IS range included improvements to the SE-I specification to introduce rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming electrochromic rear view mirror and a new leather upholstery with heated front seats. There is a modest change to the rear light clusters and on IS 250 the exhaust tailpipe has a bolder circular profile in place of the previous ellipse.
New-look 17 and 18-inch wheels are available and the choice of exterior colours has been adjusted, with Ultra Blue metallic making its debut in the range.