It could be said that Japan's first true answer to the German luxury sport sedan was the Lexus IS. Since the launch of the first-generation model way back in 1999, the IS has been butting heads with the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Audi A4. The third-generation is no exception.
The thing is, the current model is getting rather long in the tooth. It may not look like it, but the car is already seven years old. With its Teutonic rivals getting either fully redesigned or significantly facelifted, Lexus is now on the back foot. It's also facing stiff competition from its compatriots too, with the Infiniti Q50 (Nissan Skyline) and the fully redesigned Acura TLX looming in its rear-view mirrors. Thankfully for Lexus IS fans, it won't be the case for long.
By next week, June 9, Lexus is all set to pull the covers off the fourth-generation model. The Japanese luxury automaker was also kind enough to provide a teaser photo, and it looks promising. For now, Lexus is only showing its taillights, and it's nothing like any IS we've seen before. This redesign will likely be revolutionary than evolutionary.
Lexus says the car will have a sportier look. Judging by those full-width tail lights, that seems to be the case. It's expected to be rear-wheel drive, but we'll only know for sure once the car is revealed. As for its underpinnings, two rumors are swirling around.
Publications are saying that it will use a (much) shortened version of the Toyota Crown platform. Others are saying that the 2021 IS will be a heavily facelifted model. Since the current chassis is the oldest among its competitors, it seems more likely that it will be new from the ground-up.
Another big question mark looms over the engine options for the 20021 IS. Given Toyota's commitment to hybrid power, we're likely to see that continuing with the new car. A turbocharged four-cylinder might also power the car since Lexus already has the IS200t. There could also be a six-cylinder as well, but it isn't known if it will be turbocharged or stick to being naturally aspirated. It's even been said that the IS F could return in this generation, but with a twin-turbo V6 rather than an unboosted V8.
Hopefully, at least for the local market, Lexus offers it with an engine that exceeds 3000cc to qualify for JPEPA tax perks; it's what makes the current generation IS 350 very competitively priced. A hybrid will be great too as it would qualify for a 50% excise tax discount.
Whatever the case may be, a lot is riding on the new IS. We have high expectations for it too, given how much we enjoyed driving the soon to be outgoing model.