Driving Report: Lexus IS - 豪華 な お も て な

Do not worry. “Mein-auto-blog” is cosmopolitan on the road, but was not taken over by the Japanese.豪華 な お も て な し is pronounced "Gōkana omotenashi", which translates as "luxurious hospitality". And that describes the new Lexus IS perfectly. As the fourth largest luxury car brand, Toyota subsidiary Lexus has reissued the IS and shows us once again that the Japanese have a very special understanding of luxury.

First test of the new Lexus IS

"Omotenashi" - The principle of hospitality, in which one knows beforehand what the guest needs, was the top priority. And the Lexus knows exactly what its driver wants from it. Comfort, high quality and the small pinch of sportiness that makes driving fun. The Lexus IS is not a real sports car, it is still too reserved for that, but the tendency is there. He shows that primarily on his exterior.

In the latest generation of the IS series, Lexus largely retains the previous appearance, only a slightly modified front section with new headlights, enlarged inlets in the front bumper and a new variation of the typical Lexus "diabolo" grille characterize the new Lexus IS. The design of the LED headlights extends the L-shaped LED daytime running lights and enables better illumination. Dynamic lines flow from the wheel arches into the bumper, giving the front an even more powerful presence. The brand-typical diabolo grille has been revised, with the "waist" being moved upwards and flowing into the newly shaped bonnet. The new proportions underscore the dynamic and make the IS appear more powerful. A selection of new alloy wheels that roll off the assembly line in 17 or 18 inches depending on the equipment variant underline the sportier look. New LED rear lights also give the rear a dynamic note.

When the “Popometer” deflects

During the test drive around Rome, our test vehicle, the Lexus IS 300h Luxury Line full hybrid, showed that it is no longer just the cozy old man's carriage. It is therefore modern and sporty. On the streets, however, it turns out that rough bumps are not for him. Both in Eco and in Sport mode, where you expect a harder suspension anyway, this takes some getting used to. According to Markus Burgmer, Head of Marketing at Lexus Germany, the “popometer” is of course different for everyone and thus the feeling of the suspension. There's no question about it: it always drives safely, even in fast corners. It hardly bends, the steering is direct, the brakes are convincing. If you switch the modes, this is immediately transferred to the steering. In accordance with the extremely high Lexus standards in vehicle development, chief engineer Naoki Kobayashi and his team subjected the new IS to a complex program, including extensive tests on country roads and racetracks. New, lightweight chassis components and revisions to the coil springs, shock absorbers and stabilizer are intended to contribute to an even more convincing driving experience - without sacrificing comfort.

Nevertheless, it knows how to convince as a full hybrid. A 181 hp 2,5 liter four-cylinder petrol engine works together with an electric motor with 105 kW (143 hp). So he creates a relaxed 223 hp. According to Markus Burgmer, most customers choose exactly this type of engine. In any case, we find them very appealing. Because if the motor switches to electrical mode, you can hardly hear it. When the petrol engine starts, it purrs very pleasantly. But it stays that way. The Japanese are also known for their reluctance. During the kickdown, the IS 300h accelerates sufficiently powerfully, but it only reaches 100 km / h after 8,3 seconds. The top speed in this class is unfortunately only 200 km / h. No banzai at the start. The Japanese like it dignified. There are also only two engines to choose from: full hybrid or turbo petrol. You meet buyers' expectations, you don't have to go over that. Fair enough!

Inside more than Hui

When navigating around the suburbs of Rome, the navigation system shows some shortcomings. Despite the growing display, which has been enlarged from seven to 10,3 inches, you never know exactly when you have to turn. And that wasn't just because of the sun's glare. Powerful: the integrated seat cooling. Very useful for the next summer. The system settings on the multifunction steering wheel are, however, a matter of practice.

The Lexus IS shines with beautiful details, such as the illuminated analog clock on the dashboard. All controls for the audio and air conditioning system have been combined into one unit in the center console, whose matt surfaces ensure a particularly high-quality appearance. Representative of the Takumi craftsmanship, which is used in every Lexus, is the new decorative stitching on the cladding of the instrument cluster as well as the revised speed and speed indicators, which present themselves in a chic way when the modes are switched. New, shaped cup holders and a leather-covered palm rest for the remote touch round off the high-quality range in the interior. For the first time, the IS is also available with laser-engraved wood applications. Highly qualified specialists from Yamaha Fine Technologies have made them especially for Lexus. They were created using the same manufacturing technology used in some of the noble pianos. If you want the interior in a sportier design, you have to treat yourself to the F Sport variant.

With its dark chrome finish and exclusive "F" diamond pattern, the new diabolo grille emphasizes the sportiness of the IS F Sport models. Side air intakes are integrated in the lower part of the radiator grille, which optimize the air flow and direct it to the brakes. The F Sport variants roll as standard on 18-inch light-alloy wheels in multi-spoke design. The interior features a three-spoke F Sport steering wheel, sports seats, LFA-style instruments, special aluminum applications in Naguri design and aluminum pedals. An adaptively variable chassis and a coordinated steering complete the whole thing. All new IS models are equipped with a multimedia system with USB and aux connection and Bluetooth. An optional Mark Levinson® Premium Surround System with 15 loudspeakers is supposed to provide a sound experience like in a real concert hall. No statement could be made about exactly when, for example, mobile connectivity should come.

Better safe than sorry

Safety is a big issue for the Japanese. The new IS has the modern safety technology of the Lexus Safety System +. The emergency braking function recognizes pedestrians, the lane departure warning system steers independently, blind spot warning systems, distance radar and cross traffic warning systems are also available. The shoulders also shrugged that some of the safety features that are already standard in other vehicles in the same segment, but are only available from a higher equipment variant. Nevertheless: All IS models are equipped with eight airbags as standard. Sensors measure the force of an impact and regulate the corresponding inflation pressure of the airbags.


The Lexus IS facelift has managed to polish up its image. It looks sportier, more mature, more modern without losing the outstanding comfort for which Lexus is known. Agility and more driving dynamics can certainly be felt, but a little more “banzai” would have been desirable. He should still score points with his existing customers and top the mark of one million units sold last year worldwide. We are excited to see how the brand will develop. With the Lexus IS, sorry, it definitely drives in the right direction. Already from the 21.01. the good piece is available from 38.500 euros.

Driving report: Simone Amores Photos: Simone Amores / Lexus
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