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Lexus sharpens IS for MY11

Front and centre: Facelifted Lexus IS 250 incorporates a number of changes to the front end.

Sharper looks, better economy and more features headline 2011 Lexus IS series

30 Aug 2010

LEXUS has issued details of the most significant upgrade of its IS series since the second-generation model was launched in 2005, with sharper looks, improved equipment levels and revised powertrains among the changes heralded ahead of its debut at the Paris motor show on September 30.

Lexus Australia has confirmed that the MY11 series is on track for release in late-October this year – just days after its local debut at the Sydney motor show – and will coincide with the previously announced introduction of an IS350 variant with a powerful 3.5-litre V6 developing 233kW of power and 378Nm of torque.

The 2.5-litre V6 in the IS250 has been tweaked, offering the same 153kW and 252Nm but with improved fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – now at 8.4L/100km (down 0.7L) and 194g/km (down 20g) for the sedan – as a result of lowering the final-drive gear ratio from 3.9 to 3.7:1.

Lexus said the air-fuel ratio control of the exhaust system has also been optimised to comply with Euro 5 emission standards, which has also seen the IS250C coupe-cabriolet improve its environmental performance slightly, falling to 9.2L/100km (down 0.1L) and 213g/km (down 6g).

The IS250’s ‘6 Super ECT’ six-speed automatic transmission also now features a ‘Road Condition Response Control’ system, which monitors throttle opening and vehicle speed on undulating terrain, preventing unwanted upshifts on inclines and automatically downshifting on descents to increase engine braking.

31 center imageLeft: Lexus IS200d, IS250c and IS250 F-Sport interior

In Europe, Lexus has also announced the arrival of a 200d 2.0-litre turbo-diesel sedan variant – a new 110kW/340Nm derivative of the existing 130kW/400Nm 2.2-litre 220d model, which remains in the range.

The 200d – which remains off the agenda for release in Australia, along with the 220d – also becomes the greenest IS model, offering 5.1L/100km (compared to 5.5L for the 220d) and 134g/km in CO2 emissions (down 10g from the 2.2) from the standard six-speed manual version. In other performance measures, it can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 10.2 seconds, on its way to a 205km/h top speed.

There are a host of subtle design revisions to the exterior and cabin of the 2011 IS series, including a more deeply recessed front grille with reshaped vertical bars and revised Lexus L-finesse ‘arrowhead’ motif, and revised ‘dark smoke’ coated headlights, complete with LED daytime running lamps (on models where Xenon headlights are fitted).

There is also a reshaped bumper with integrated foglamps at each end and a revised lower grille section designed to increase brake cooling airflow, and to emphasise the car’s low centre of gravity and “broad, purposeful stance”.

New 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheel designs are featured, along with three new exterior colours (two shades of blue and a ‘Starlight’ black), while the rear is characterised by a revised tail-light cluster incorporating a new pink smoked turn signal lens. The IS250 also picks up a thicker circular exhaust outlet.

Inside, Lexus has added a metal finish to the meter rings, steering wheel switchgear and glovebox door, while the company also says it has improved Optitron meter surface glass transmittance from 30 to 50 per cent.

Other interior detail points include LED lighting changes and the application of a high-gloss black metallic coating to the door trim and centre console switchgear surrounds.

Equipment changes in Europe centre on an expanded choice of premium stereos, leather trim revisions and new driver amenities, while the F-Sport line has also been further refined.

For MY11, the F-Sport grade – which should be available in Australia on both the IS250 and IS350 – includes a range of exclusive exterior and interior styling details and, for the IS250, unique sports suspension tuning.

Highlights include a sportier front bumper with mesh upper and lower grille inserts and aerodynamic lip spoilers, exclusive 18-inch wheels (with 225/40 front and 255/40 rear tyres), an F-Sport rear spoiler and exterior colour choices from the IS F palette.

The F-Sport cabin also now includes leather/fabric sports seats and steel blue metallic trim inserts.

For the range-topping IS F, there are no changes to its 311kW/505Nm 5.0-litre V8 engine, which can propel the sedan from 0-100km/h in just 4.7 seconds, and on to a 270km/h top speed.

New IS F features for 2011 include Xenon headlights and a new ‘Starlight Black GF’ exterior finish, while the cabin has new dark silver carbon-fibre inserts, a redesigned instrument panel, blue contrast stitching for the leather upholstery (from white), a revised front seat design said to offer improved support, and a new steering wheel that likewise improves grip and feel.

In other Lexus news, the Toyota luxury division last week officially ended production of the SC430 coupe-convertible. As GoAuto has reported, a replacement is understood to be in the works, but is not due to surface until 2014.

Lexus Australia chief executive Tony Cramb said the SC430 had “played a significant role in Lexus’ history, paving the way for models such as IS250C and IS F”.

“The end of production of SC430 signals the start of a new era for Lexus – one defined by L-finesse design and innovation,” he said.

“Lexus is currently gearing up for the next decade, when we will launch our first supercar – the LFA – along with a host of new product, including our first hatch, the CT200h.”

Lexus sold 690 SC430s in Australia from 2001 to 2010.

As GoAuto has reported, the CT200h compact hybrid car will also be shown at the Paris show, with final specifications, just prior to its launch in Europe. It goes on sale in Australia early next year.

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