New 2020 Lexus IS revealed with sharp new looks and updated tech

Brand’s Mercedes C-Class rival gets redesign inside and out and updated infotainment, but UK launch not happening

Lexus has pulled the wraps off its latest BMW 3 Series rival in the form of the brand new fourth-generation IS saloon, but the newcomer will not be sold in the UK. 

The saloon has been a strong performer in the Auto Express Driver Power satisfaction survey, but the dwindling sales and the increasing popularity of SUVs in Europe mean the new IS will not be sold here. 

Though it’s a new model, most of the changes focus on design - both exterior and interior - and technology updates, as this latest iteration of the IS uses the same platform as the third-generation model. 

The front end of the IS is still marked out by a large ‘spindle’ style grille used across the Lexus line-up, while the headlight units are more compact than before and feature a strong LED running signature slashing from corner to corner. 

The rear end of the new IS is much different than before. The taillights sport a new L-shaped signature that are now joined by a full-width LED lighting bar, while Lexus talks of the car being more a ‘four-door coupe’ in profile than what has come before. Stronger rear shoulders are emphasised by the pronounced boot lid, too, while the whole car is 30mm longer. 

F-Sport versions of the new IS have also been revealed. These receive a different mesh pattern on the front grille, and additional front air intake, exclusive 19-inch wheels, a rear spoiler on the boot lid, and the availability of the Radiant Red paint colour used on the brand’s more performance focussed models. 

The interior is a mix of old and new. Some elements, such as the central vents, gear selector, centre console and steering wheel, have been broadly carried over with minimal changes. The most obvious revision comes in the form of a new floating table style touchscreen infotainment system, 8.0 inches standard or 10.3 inches optionally, replacing the sunken screen in the old car. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also appear. 

Under the skin, the company’s engineers have refined the IS chassis with revised suspension intended to further suppress unsprung mass, while the company also claims gains in body rigidity and more responsive, direct steering that’s quicker to self-centre. The coil springs are 20 per cent lighter than before, and the use of more aluminum elsewhere in the suspension results in an 18 per cent weight reduction across the setup. Stroke dependent damper technology has also been introduced, while F Sport versions of the IS will get electronically controlled adaptive dampers. 

The US range kicks off with the IS 300, which uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine developing 238bhp and sends power to the rear wheels via an eight speed automatic gearbox. 

The IS 300 is also available with all-wheel-drive. However, adding this option also brings with it a 256bhp 3.5-litre six-cylinder petrol engine paired to a six-speed automatic transmission.

At the top of the range is the IS 350. It’s available with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive and sees power from the 3.5-litre engine climb to 307bhp. F Sport models are exclusively offered with this powertrain and also benefit from chassis revisions and other performance upgrades, such as a sports exhaust.

Read about how Toyota and Lexus plan to launch three electric cars by 2021 here... 

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