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The updated Lexus IS sports a host of subtle changes and is a smooth samurai that's easy to drive fast.

19 Apr 2017

The Lexus IS has always been a difficult car to match against segment leaders such as the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class in terms of its handling and price point.

Not anymore.

At $224,000 (as of 20th March 2017), the 2.0-litre turbocharged Lexus is significantly cheaper than the $241,888 (as of 17th March 2017) Mercedes-Benz C250 AMG Line as well as the $233, 800 (as of 24th March 2017) BMW 330i M Sport - both of which sport 2.0-litre turbocharged engines that are perfect rivals to the Lexus IS200t F Sport that you see here.

Headlamps have been tweaked to allow the IS to look sleeker

The looks match the goods

Design-wise, the Lexus IS has made subtle tweaks to its front fascia and its lights, both front and back, to surpass the bland tastes from its German peers.

The aggressive F Sport grille on our test car, coupled with twin trapezoidal exhaust tips, replacing round tailpipes, further enhances this very fact.

As for its road manners, the Lexus is never disheartening. The steering - while lacking feedback compared to a 3 Series - is sharp and precise, with a perfect weight to haul it around bends with reckless abandon at illegal speeds, without feeling insecure.

Tone it down a couple of notches and the strikingly attractive car in Heat Blue will maintain a polished and charming character as the engine works effortlessly with the quick-shifting yet velvety smooth eight-speed gearbox.

The cabin of the Lexus IS remains to be a work of art

Is it a viable option for enthusiastic drivers then?

It can certainly be, and then some. Beneath the surface of the plush Lexus IS is a 2.0-litre turbocharged powerplant that is capable of sending 241bhp and 350Nm of twisting force to the rear wheels. Unlike most turbocharged cars, power delivery is linear, which also means that you don't feel the bulk of the 241 horses forcing you back to the seat as you pedal to the metal.

It's no slouch, nonetheless. In more ways than one, the updated Lexus IS has a lot to give, thanks to its admirable ride that's firm yet cushy and a laudable handling that's tight and confidence-inspiring.

The screen size has been increased from 7.0-inches to 10.3-inches

You mentioned a host of subtle updates?

Apart from the aforementioned aesthetic changes on its sheet metal, the Lexus IS now sports a larger 10.3-inch infotainment screen that's controlled by the carmaker's Remote Touch Interface system.

A new drive mode has also been added to the Drive Mode Select system. Other than the usual Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+, there is now a Customise mode, which will come in handy if the two said Sport modes are a tad too over-the-top for you.

Other parts of the car remain the same, including space and the kind of perfection and attention to details you'd come to expect from Lexus. This also means benches are comfortable, with sufficient space to snugly fit four occupants.

A customised drive mode is available to better suit your mood

Don't ask for the moon, we have the stars

Lexus has done well to understand that it needs tweaking to make the IS a worthy buy. It is now a highly desirable and stylish luxury compact sedan that wouldn't look out of place when parked beside a German competitor.

You could also think of the car as something that's rather special because instead of purely copying the competition, the way some carmakers do, Lexus has clearly forged its own route with the IS. You can call it stubborn or even old school, but you just cannot deny that the car is somewhat a star in the making.
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Car Information



: -

Engine Type


4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC Twin-scroll Turbocharged Dual VVT-iW

Engine Cap





180kW (241 bhp) / 5800 rpm



350 Nm / 4400 rpm



8-speed (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)



Top Speed



Fuel consumption


13.3 km/L

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