2020 may be coming to a close, but Lexus Philippines is gearing up for the launch of a refreshed model. Set to premiere this coming November 21 is the 2021 Lexus IS. That's right, the new sports sedan will be arriving in the Philippines very soon.
First making its world debut five months ago, the 2021 IS gets a radical exterior makeover, a subtly updated interior, and a revised chassis.
The IS features an edgier design that consists of bolder-looking headlights, a more aggressive spindle grille, and larger air intakes. It also appears slightly wider thanks to the more muscular fenders and prominent character lines. But perhaps the most striking changes can be seen at the back as the taillights span the entire width of the vehicle – a design cue inspired by newer models such as the LM and UX.
In terms of size, the IS now measures 4710mm long, 1840mm wide, and 1435mm tall. This makes the sports sedan longer and wider by 30mm, and 5mm taller, respectively. Wheelbase, meanwhile, remains the same at 2800mm.
If the exterior received noticeable changes, the interior looks relatively the same as before. However, it gets a new 8-inch touchscreen infotainment system that now sits closer to the driver. It supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and can be specified with either a 15-speaker or 17-speaker Mark Levinson sound system.
Under the hood, 2021 IS is available with either a naturally-aspirated V6 or a turbocharged inline-four. The range starts with the IS 350 which gets the long-lived 3.5-liter V6. It puts out 311 PS with 380 Nm of torque and is connected to an eight-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels. For those that prefer all-wheel-drive, there's the IS 300 AWD and IS 350 AWD which makes 260 PS with 320 Nm, and 311 PS with 380 Nm, respectively.
Finally, there's the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine dubbed the IS 300. It generates 241 PS and 350 Nm of torque. The engine benefits from VVTi-W and can switch between Otto and Atkinson cycles for improved efficiency. Power is also sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Lexus has yet to reveal what exact variants of the IS will be offered in the Philippines when it's launched. Our best guess is that Lexus will continue to offer the V6-powered IS 350 variants as they can take advantage of JPEPA.
With the turbocharged IS 300 unlikely to be offered locally, could Lexus instead offer the IS 300h hybrid beside the IS 350? Perhaps, as Lexus has always offered hybrid versions of their nameplates. The company even claimed in late 2018, the excise tax convinced more customers to go hybrid thanks to the 50% tax break on normal excise rates.
With only two weeks to go before the launch of the 2021 Lexus IS, all we can do now is wait until the Lexus is ready to take the fight to the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.