This article was taken from BEYOND BY LEXUS Issue 1
Words: Shogo Hagiwara
Pictures: Daniel Riera
Since the unveiling of the Lexus LF-CC study at the Paris Motor Show last year, enthusiasts have been been holding their collective breath for the arrival of the latest Lexus model. Many expected that it would take inspiration from this exciting coupe concept and daring new interpretation of L-finesse design language.
Those predictions were evidently correct, for the impressive next-generation IS takes many creative cues from the LF-CC. The three-dimensional spindle grille and LED headlight system with integrated heat sink and L-shaped daytime running lights are present and correct. As seen on the concept coupe, the lines originating from the grille offer bold visuals, while front air intakes and bulging arch flares constitute a powerful facial expression.
It is rare to find the overall aesthetic of a one-off concept so extensively adopted on a production model, but it indicates how determined Lexus is to maintain its position as one of the elite members of the world’s automotive industry. Marvelling solely at the visuals, however, does not do justice to this delightfully athletic-looking sports saloon.
“The previous IS garnered accolades for its overall driving performance,” explains Junichi Furuyama, the chief engineer in charge of this IS design. “So, obviously, we had to aim really high, especially to bring its fun-to-drive features to the next level. We also understood that the next IS must become the one that would transform Lexus into a truly premium automobile brand.”
Furuyama and his team made a concerted effort to improve chassis performance in order for the vehicle to respond exactly as the driver intends. To achieve that end, prototypes were built from the wheels up and tested on circuits both at home and abroad, including the Nurburgring in Germany, known for its demanding course layout. During the later stages of development, the prototypes were put through rigourous regimes on normal roads around the world, with test vehicles racking up almost one million road-miles over a three-year period.
All that mileage has paid off. Thanks to the efforts of Team Furuyama, the new IS exhibits incredible improvements over the already accomplished previous model. The feel of the steering is especially outstanding: the response to input is direct and precise, enabling the driver to feel directly connected to the car and therefore in tune with its responses.
Although much state-of-the-art has been employed to develop the latest IS, what matters most of all is the adhesive joint and laser screw welding applied to the bodyshell. Both of these processes allow body parts to be joined far more solidly than previously possible, contributing to a marked improvement in overall body rigidity.
“We tested these two new technologies on a prototype during the development stage and saw their real contribution to body rigidity,” Furuyama recalls with a knowing smile. “The benefits of these technologies were far more than expected, which ultimately led us to determine that the new IS must be equipped with them.”
Inspired by Lexus L-finesse design philosophy, L-shaped motifs are repeated around the new IS, including the daytime running lights. These were designed in an arrow shape, helping to form a bold frontal treatment. Unlike the format on its predecessor, these running lights are housed independently of the headlights.
The rev counter/speedometer employed on F Sport models was first designed for the Lexus LFA.
Taking advantage of state-of-the-art human-machine interface technology, the cabin has been developed based on the latest ergonomics. The combination of increased width and extended wheelbase provides a comfortable contemporary environment, especially for rear-seat passengers.
The new range features IS 250 and IS 300h models in four grades — SE, Luxury, F Sport and Premier. Prices start at £26,495 on the road.