If you loved the Toyota Altezza, you will drool over the Lexus IS, the successor to the Altezza. Shall it fill the Altezza shoes and look even cooler in them? Let us explore.
If you are shopping for a smaller luxury sedan that puts a premium on driving satisfaction, the BMW 3 series remains the place to start. It is one of the world’s best sports sedans, although the maintenance gremlins and poor resale value may not work out on your mind excel sheet as well as something similar from Toyota’s luxury division, Lexus.
Designed to give the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4 a bit of a headache, the Lexus IS brought to market the brand’s reputation for delivering a no-nonsense ownership experience, high-quality craftsmanship and long-term value.
Like its competition, this compact sports sedan was available in numerous configurations and with numerous engines and packages to suit a wide variety of tastes and budgets. Selection in the used market will, therefore, be immense. It being a Lexus though, it does not come cheap.
At first glance, it is not recognisable as a Lexus until you see the badge. The IS seems in stark contrast leaning to the side of revolutionary rather than evolutionary when compared to the previous generation Altezza.
First off, everything is bigger and meaner from its sheer dimension to things such as the brake calipers. It shares many of its design features and styling ques with its older brother, the Lexus GS, as it is built on a shortened version of the rear-wheel drive midsize GS platform.
The Lexus IS sport sedan is sporty, with a purposeful stance that gives the impression of a road hug. One thing is certain.
Larger wheels and tyres filling the wheel wells are almost always a good thing for appearance’s sake, and I personally like the 17 or 18 inch wheels that come standard.
Redesigned for the 2006 model year, the 3 Series Sport Wagon is identical to the sedan from the centre roof pillar forward.
It is undeniable that the IS is good for its fit and finish and welcoming design. The front seats are comfortable, although headroom is in short supply for taller passengers.
Additionally, the back seats lack adequate space for passengers to get comfortable, but since it is a small car, this is expected.
Standard equipment includes leather seats with 10-way front power adjustment, a power sunroof for some, dual-zone climate control and a 13-speaker stereo. If you are lucky, you might land on the sought after option of the 14-speaker Mark Levinson audio system and maybe the ventilated front seats. The gauges are large and easy to read, and their light-saber indicator needles and dynamic redline indication are modern. Also, the keyless entry and pushbutton ignition is handy.
Engine and performance
The Lexus IS comes in both rear- and all-wheel-drive forms and is quick and easy to drive. It has many of the attributes of a sports car with the practicality of a sedan. It offers rear-wheel drive in a class increasingly dominated by front-wheel drive.
While this generation come in a variety of engine configurations from the common 2.5 Litre V6 to the insane 5 Litre V8, imports from Japan shall see you only get the 2.5 and 3 Litre variations matted to a 6-speed Automatic.