Small modifications typically convey large enhancements. Simply ask Lexus. The 2021 Lexus IS did not begin from a clean piece of paper; as a substitute, it continues on the identical platform it has been on since 2013 however receives small styling and mechanical upgrades to make the sedan higher. The IS is the Japanese luxurious model’s most vital sedan, and in an period the place sedans are on a sluggish decline (and the GS is retiring), this revised sport sedan carries much more weight within the Lexus lineup.
Standing out in a crowded section (particularly between sport sedans) is essential for the 2021 Lexus IS. And for the previous few years, the IS hasn’t actually distinguished itself. Newcomers such because the Genesis G70 and Alfa Romeo Giulia gained consideration because of their dealing with, total efficiency, and nice engineering that disgrace the BMW 3 Series, the section’s pioneer. Lexus is reportedly engaged on a brand-new IS that will likely be hotter than the present mannequin, however within the meantime, it is staying related within the section by bringing small updates to the IS for 2021. We spent a couple of days driving a rear-wheel-drive 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport and put its updates to the take a look at on the monitor and on California’s twisting mountain roads.
2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport: Is It F-ing Quick?
Like all 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sports activities, our mannequin was powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that delivers 311 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. Our instance got here with the eight-speed automated transmission that despatched the engine’s energy to the rear wheels. An all-wheel-drive system can be obtainable, although you will get a six-speed automated gearbox as a substitute. These are comparatively wholesome horsepower and torque figures for a naturally aspirated V-6, and it confirmed on the monitor. However in comparison with the competitors, the IS fell a bit quick.
Our IS 350 F Sport sprinted to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and accomplished the quarter mile in 14.2 seconds at 100.1 mph. In comparison with the last rear-drive Lexus IS 350 F Sport we tested (a 2014 mannequin), the 2021 mannequin was 0.1 second slower to 60 mph however 0.Three mph quicker by way of the quarter mile. (The 2014 IS 350 F Sport recorded a lure pace of 99.Eight mph by way of the quarter.)
One of many final BMW Three Collection we examined was a 2019 330i xDrive. That is not evaluating apples to apples due to the BMW’s four-cylinder engine and non-obligatory all-wheel-drive system, however the Three Collection was simply on par with the Lexus, crossing the quarter mile in 14.1 seconds at 98.1 mph and getting from Zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. Our 2019 Genesis G70 long-term car, which got here geared up with rear-wheel drive and the upgraded twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 engine, was notably quicker than the IS, reaching 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and finishing the quarter mile in 13 seconds flat at 108.5 mph. Even our long-term 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia with the bottom turbocharged I-Four engine was quicker than the IS, reaching 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and attending to the quarter mile in 13.Eight seconds at 100.6 mph.
Street take a look at editor Chris Walton loved the IS 350 F Sport on the monitor. “This automotive is nearer to what a Three Collection as soon as felt like than a Three Collection does now,” he stated. On the figure-eight course, which Walton went round in 25.Four seconds at 0.93 g, the IS turned in crisply, and the limited-slip differential helped put down the ability so Walton may slide the automotive with confidence. “Total, this can be a very good sports activities sedan, and the primary F Sport I really feel made a distinction,” Walton stated. “It feels mild and vigorous with out feeling on edge. Extra of this, please, Lexus.”
2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport: How the F Does It Drive?
Though its take a look at numbers proved middling for the section, the updates made to the IS helped it ship a greater really feel on the street. On an outing to Angeles Crest Freeway, north of Los Angeles, the IS was fairly enjoyable to drive. With Sport S+ mode engaged, the automotive’s steering really feel was very good, delivering nice suggestions of what was taking place on the wheels. And though the transmission held gears barely longer in Sport S+ mode, it nonetheless upshifted too quickly for our liking. The V-6 felt and sounded alive in Sport S+, however the transmission may have amplified that sensation by holding gears longer. The gearbox downshifted rapidly when it sensed inputs on the accelerator pedal, although, which improved the driving expertise considerably.
One thing that the IS did very well was mixing consolation and luxurious with the sporty efficiency that is the hallmark of sedans on this section. The IS felt extra comfy than dynamic, however as we noticed on Angeles Crest, it might amplify the expertise to ship an enthusiastic experience. The suspension did job controlling physique roll on tight turns, although it is to not the degrees of the Giulia or the G70. Nonetheless, the IS managed to really feel assured on mountain roads.
2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport: The Inside Story
Lexus up to date the inside of the IS a bit to make issues extra comfy. The development we appreciated probably the most was the brand new trackpad and 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system. Touchscreen performance was beforehand lacking from the Lexus sedan’s infotainment system. Though its place on high of the sprint is likely to be a bit out of attain for the motive force, the display was straightforward to function. I averted utilizing the trackpad and spent most of my time utilizing Apple CarPlay. Android Auto can be obtainable. Though the infotainment system itself proved removed from one of the best within the trade, it is easy to make use of. Not like some programs that solely show a fraction of the display when CarPlay is linked, the show within the IS thoughtfully confirmed a full display.
Our IS take a look at automotive’s Circuit Purple seats and ash wood-trimmed steering wheel imparted a way of class to the sports activities sedan’s insides. Though the cabin’s design hasn’t modified a lot, it is small updates had been welcomed. The middle stack was redesigned to permit for a bit extra space, whereas the outdated sq. air vents had been changed with extra trendy round models. The 17-speaker Mark Levinson audio system sounded crisp and clear and had me turning up the quantity when my favourite songs got here on.
The IS has much less rear-passenger house than a few of its rivals, and that was noticeable to this 6-foot-1 scribe. The automotive’s fastback-like profile restricted headroom, whereas its legroom was simply sufficient sufficient for me to squeeze into the rear seat with the motive force’s seat set to my driving place.
2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport: C.R.E.A.M.
The rear-drive 2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport begins at $43,925, however our instance added a bunch of choices that raised its value to $55,050. That is a bit too excessive for what you get, particularly while you examine it to the Alfa Romeo Giulia or the Genesis G70. Certain, chances are you’ll not get a cabin this good in both of these two sedans, however each supply a greater driving expertise and nonetheless handle to ship a well-appointed inside.
The fact is that the small modifications Lexus made to the IS 350 F Sport are the equal of taking a half step ahead—it is higher than earlier than however less than the requirements set by the section’s greatest. Sedans could also be declining, however the competitors remains to be stiff.
|2021 Lexus IS 350 F Sport|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$55,050|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Entrance-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||3.5L/311-hp/280-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,787 lb (53/47%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||185.Four x 72.Four x 56.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||14.2 sec @ 100.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-Zero MPH||110 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.93 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.Four sec @ 0.71 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||20/28/23 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||169/120 kWh/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.85 lb/mile|