The Intelligent Sport. It’s Lexus’ entry level luxury entrant benchmarked by the BMW 3 series and closely followed by the Mercedes Benz C Class and Audi A4 series. The 3rd Generation IS has come a long way from the Toyota Altezza it was extracted from. The IS was conceived to take on Germany’s best and now the all-new 2014 IS is aimed to be the most fun-to-drive IS ever.
Despite the fact that the IS has been around for only 13 years, it certainly has put a dent in market share of its European counterparts. Because of the Lexus IS target for being compact, sporty, fun-to drive package, the IS has become a popular choice for Lexus enthusiasts. Will this third generation Intelligent Sport be Lexus’ charm to be the best? We’ll talk about it in depth, so let’s begin.
IS – Right From The Start
First Generation IS – JCE10/SXE10/GXE10/JCE15
When the IS came about, Lexus figured the GS was just too large and the ES was just not enough to take on it’s rivals from Deutschland, especially in the small luxury sports sedan segment. The Toyota Altezza, was the 4 door sports sedan the Intellgent Sport was conceived from. This first Lexus IS was first introduced in Europe as the IS 200, then quickly made its way to the United States bearing the silky smooth 2JZ-GE 3.0L Inline 6 known as the IS 300. There was also the “Sport Cross” 5 door lift back version, but don’t you dare call it a station wagon. The first generation IS was sports car agility, had right looks and had a good amount of power. But there were a few which weren’t satisfied and wanted to go the next step. A few brave IS owners ditched the N/A 2JZ-GE for a turbocharged 2JZ-GTE. To complete the “4 Door Supra” transformation, some swapped in a few authentic Supra parts inlcluding the Getrag V160 6 Speed manual transmission, upgraded wheel & tire package, beefed up suspension and of course the factory Supra big brake setup. Those with a virtually unlimited budget went the V8 muscle car-type route. TTE (Team Toyota Europe and Rod Millen Motorsports built their versions of an IS 430 powered by a 4.3L 3UZ-FE V8. TTE added a blower while RMM left it N/A.
Second Generation IS – GSE20/GSE25/GSE21/GSE26/ALE20/USE20
The second IS matured into an athletic and luxurious compact sports sedan with more options. This was the first IS offered with two powerplant options (in the USA). The first was a high compression, direct injected 204 HP 2.5L 4GR-FSE V6 which satisfied those who wanted 6 cylinder power with efficiency of a 4 cylinder. The second was a high powered 306 HP direct injected 3.5L 2GR-FSE V6 which at the time smoked everyone it its class. To suffice the strict emission regulations in Europe, a diesel variant was exclusively offered. A long list of standard features were available for 2nd Gen IS while many of these features were expensive additions for its rivals. And because of Lexus’ pursuit of perfection, a V8 powered IS was finally created thanks to “a skunk works team of rogue engineers” who created the IS F. As the SC 430 luxury hardtop convertible was nearing the end of its lifecycle, a hard top convertible IS unofficially took it’s place forgoing a traditional 2 door coupé. There were no real answers why a standard coupe ever came about, but to the dismay of the enthusiasts, we never got a real two door sports coupé. Shortly after the release of the 2nd Generation IS and IS F, the F SPORT name was born in the form of an accessory line to compliment the 2nd Generation IS. Later on, Japan embraced the F SPORT name and finally offered a factory tuned sport package to compliment the IS F and LFA performance flagship.
Third Generation IS – GSE30/GSE31/GSE35/GSE36/AVE30
The list of new features are very extensive on the third generation IS so we’ll have to break up the full in-depth coverage on the 2014 IS in several parts as well as drive impressions on the road and on a race track. For now, here are just a handful of features for the 2014 IS:
Bold new exterior sheet metal styling (taken from the LF-CC Concept) with the full signature Spindle Grille
Separate headlamp & DRL LED assemblies
Standard HID single projector headlamps
Available LED twin projector headlamps
Foglamps are standard on all models except F SPORT (USA).
Foglights available on F SPORT in other world markets.
Vortex Generators in key locations for aerodynamics and NVH
New rigid unibody construction with front and rear subframes
New suspension design with stiffer sway bars
Drive Mode Select (Standard 3 Mode, Available 4 Mode for F SPORT).
Available Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) for F SPORT.
8-speed Sport Direct Shift G Force Artificial Intelligence control (G-AI SHIFT) w/Lockup Torque Converter- IS 350 RWD Only
Hybrid (IS 300h) available for select European & Asian markets only
Intake Sound Generator for F SPORT models
LFA-style LCD TFT Guage Cluster for IS F SPORT
60/40 Split Fold Down Rear Seats
New Remote Touch Controller
New Navigation Telematics Interface
Standard Weather and Traffic Info
Optional Navigation with New 3D Mapping
Standard 7″ Screen w/Display Audio
Dual USB AUX Inputs
Available 15 speaker 835 watt Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound
Available Lane Departure Alert (LDA)
Available Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) w/Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
Available Automatic High Beam (AHB)
Standard Auto Location Tire Pressure Warning System (AL-TPWS)