Lexus IS running


In an online virtual reveal, the 2021 Lexus IS was unveiled the week of June 15, 2020. The reveal occurred via the internet thanks to the ongoing issues related to the Coronavirus and Covid19. For almost 20 years, the Lexus IS has carried the concept of a compact luxury sports sedan that has concentrated on exhilarating driving performance. Through its constant refinement, the Lexus IS has attained near-cult status.

Lexus sedan
The Lexus IS F Sport portrait session

The Lexus IS has one incredible devotee by the name of Akio Toyoda. Toyota Motor President Toyoda credits the IS as “the car that really taught me what performance driving was.” We at Napleton.News have managed to log many miles in various Lexus IS models through the year. Follow along as we discover what’s new with the 2021 Lexus IS.


What’s a Shimoyama? It’s a place. Formally, it’s the Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama. That’s Toyota and Lexus’s new test facility located near Toyota City in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. A state-of-the-art test facility, Shimoyama features a 3.3-mile asphalt track where engineers can design and validate concept and production vehicles that will assist in their overall design. Shimoyama’s ultimate goal is to deliver a new generation of Lexus vehicles offering more linear steering, braking, optimized handling and ride quality from the heightened focus on chassis tuning and development.


Lexus IS headlamp
The sculpted hood of the Lexus IS

The new IS was developed, according to Lexus engineers, to be a car that excelled in communicating with the driver regardless of road conditions or driving situations. “We aimed to make the new IS a Lexus compact sports sedan that provides high-quality riding comfort while offering a high level of vehicle control,” said Lexus Chief Engineer Naoki Kobayashi.

To that end, Lexus engineers started by enhancing the IS’s body rigidity. From radiator side supports to chassis weld-points to reinforcements inside the C-pillars, they were able to improve ride comfort and driving performance with enhanced steering input.

2021 IS
The 2021 Lexus IS F Sport

With the new suspension tuning comes larger 19-inch wheels to improve cornering. Two-different patterns are available on F-Sport models, including unique BBS wheels that pair with the available Dynamic Handling Package. All other models will receive 18-inch wheels as standard.


Newly restructured for 2021, the Lexus IS will receive a choice of three powertrains. They include the IS 300, powered by a 241 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 258 lb-ft of torque. It is mated to an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission.

Second up is the IS 300 AWD with a 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 260 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. Power is distributed to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission. On dry roads, the AWD maintains a 30:70 front-to-rear torque split. It can vary the torque up to 50:50, depending on the traction needs of the IS.

IS Engine 2021
The Lexus IS 3.5-liter V6

At the pinnacle of the IS fleet is the IS 350 F Sport. It’s for the buyer who prefers to live life to the Max. Available in either Rear or All-Wheel-Drive, it is powered by a 311 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 producing 280 lb-ft of torque. It uses the same 8-speed automatic direct-shift transmission as the IS 300 RWD, while the AWD F Sport uses a six-speed automatic gearbox instead. Either way, you will enjoy 0-60 mph times of 5.6 or 5.7 seconds, respectively.

Buyers of the IS 350 F Sport can option their vehicles with an available Dynamic Handling Package (DHP), which includes Adaptive Variable Suspension that reads the road and adjusts the dampers as needed.


We’ve had a look at the interior of the new IS, and can say it is race car-inspired. From the gauges to the bright “Circuit Red” leather to the split driver and passenger “pods,” it is designed to inspire driver enthusiasm from the push of the starter button. There are steel scuff plates on the doorsills, unique F Sport pedals, heated and ventilated seating, a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob helps to round out the offerings.

The Circuit Red interior of the new Lexus IS F Sport

There are other visual and performance cues throughout. Taking a look outside, there’s a unique front bumper with functional aerodynamic enhancements. At the rear is a new bumper, rear lip spoiler, rocker panels and more. Under the hood are such features as a cold air intake with a sound-generator and an F Sport exhaust and diffuser.


Lexus Rear view
The Lexus IS as seen from the rear.

During the introduction of the new 2021 Lexus IS, it was mentioned the IS would be available in the fall of 2020. In the meantime, keep following and contact your local Napleton Lexus dealership for more information and a test drive!

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