After its debut at the 2016 Beijing Motor Show, the facelifted Lexus IS is now on sale in Japan. The refresher exercise further enhances the compact sedan’s sporty theme with added refinement.
The facelift is largely an aesthetics makeover, with no changes under the hood. Hence, the IS remains motivated by either a 2.0-litre turbo, 2.5-litre hybrid or a 3.5-litre V6. However, it is now equipped with preventive safety package called the Lexus Safety System+.
On the exterior, the front now sports a more aggressive bumper with larger side intakes and aerodynamic sculpture to house the redesigned LED projector headlamps while maintaining the familiar Lexus fascia. The front grille has bars running across instead of the pre-facelift mesh and bar combination.
At the rear, the LED combination tail lamps get a new three-stripe graphics as compared to the old dual-stripe design. Completing the rear profile is a pair of rectangular shaped dual exhaust tips. The IS rides on either new 17-inch ten-spoke aluminium alloys or 18-inch multi-spoke aluminium alloys.
Inside, Lexus has made subtle revisions for better cabin ergonomics. Firstly, the standard Lexus Premium Sound System now comes with a 293-watts, 10-speakers (up from the previous 8-speaker) setting. Opt for the Mark Levinson® and the speaker count goes up to 15 (835-watts).
The optional Navigation package upgrades the MMI screen to 10.3-inch from the standard 7.0-inch and a “Back” button on the Remote Touch Interface controller that is not present in the standard system. However, the facelifted IS does get an “Enter button” at the side of the Remote Touch Interface controller for better conveniences.
Two new interior colour profile – Chateau and Nuance Black have been added to the line-up on top of the Black and Flaxen trims. Other minor revisions include revised steering wheel switchgear, cup holder design and gear lever finish.
As mentioned earlier, no mechanical upgrades have been made under the hood. Therefore, the base IS 200t is powered by a 2.0-litre longitudinally mounted four-cylinder turbo mated to an eight-speed Sports Direct Shift (SDS) automatic, pushing out 241 hp and 350 Nm to the rear wheels.
The IS 300h is powered by the Lexus Hybrid Drive System, combining a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol pushing out 178 hp and 221 Nm with an electric motor generating 105kW (140 hp) and 300 Nm of torque. Power is transferred to either the rear-wheels or all-four wheels (most likely we will not be getting the AWD variant) via an electronically controlled Continuously Variable Transmission.
Lastly, Japan’s range topping IS 350, which UMW does not have on offer, gets a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 that produces 314 hp and 380 Nm of torque to drive the rear-wheels via the same eight-speed SDS automatic.
The only mechanical difference in the IS facelift is a retuned suspension to further sharpen dynamics and improve damping.
Also thrown in the mix this time is the Lexus Safety System+ that includes a host of preventive safety systems as standard on all variants. Lexus Safety System+ includes Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist, Intelligent High Beam and Hi-Speed Adaptive Cruise Control.
As with any Lexus models, customers have the option to spec their IS with an F-Sport package. The F-Sport package adds on a mesh front grille with black accents on the front bumper, twin projector LED headlamps, 18-inch gunmetal grey F-Sport design, rear bumper mesh inserts, F-Sport badges, F-Sport interior trim pieces and a LFA-styled Optitron instrument display.
The IS comes in nine exterior shades – Sonic Quartz, Mercury Grey Mica, Platinum silver, Sonic Titanium, Black, Graphite Black, Red Mica, Mader Red and Deep Blue Mica. White Nova and Heat Blue are exclusive colours to the F-Sport trim.
In Japan, prices for the base IS 200t start from ￥4.7 million (RM189k) all the way up to the range topping IS 350 F-Sport at ￥6,303,000 (RM254k). Locally, UMW has the current generation Lexus IS on sale, therefore we may very well see the IS facelift making its way to our shores in due course.
LEXUS IS F-SPORT