The boldly-styled 2013 Lexus IS sedan range has been launched in Australia, with pricing starting from $55,900.
The Japanese automaker has also bolstered the IS range by adding a fuel-efficient hybrid model, which attracts a premium of $3000 over the base model IS 250.
With the exception of the IS 250 F Sport - which gets a price cut of $1400 - prices for the IS 250 and IS 350 ranges have risen by between $100 (IS 250 Luxury) and $3200 (IS 350 Sports Luxury).
However, each now comes with a longer standard specifications list.
And, thanks to a stretched wheelbase, IS buyers are also getting more car for their money, with cabin space (particularly in the rear) significantly improved.
While the new IS platform is stiffer and roomier than before, the petrol powertrains are almost entirely carry-over from the previous generation. Only a revised intake tract has been fitted to give the V6s a brawnier engine note.
The 2.5 litre 4GR-FSE naturally-aspirated V6 that powers the IS 250 still produces153kW and 252Nm, and consumes 9.2 l/100km on the combined cycle - 0.1 l/100km more than the previous model (thanks to a slight weight increase).
The IS 350's 3.5 litre 2GR-FSE engine's output remains at 233kW and 378Nm with fuel consumption also rising to 9.7 l/100km; that's an increase of 0.3 l/100km.
But while the IS 250 and IS 350 are thirstier than before, buyers now have the choice of a more frugal hybrid variant in the IS 300h.
Powered by an Atkinson-cycle 2.5 litre inline four, the 300h has a combined power output of 164kW and a peak torque figure of 300Nm, and burns just 4.9 litres of petrol on the combined cycle.
Helping the 300h achieve its efficiency is a CVT transmission, which features six stepped pre-set ratios that can be cycled through with the standard wheel-mounted shift paddles.
IS 250s continue to make use of a six-speed automatic, albeit one that has undergone improvements to its shift mapping and has also added downshift rev matching.
The IS 350 gets the same eight-speed automatic used by the IS F, with sharper shifts and a greater spread of ratios to improve its performance.
All IS models ride on new suspension. The front suspension features a similar layout to the double wishbones of the outgoing model but has new springs, dampers and swaybars to boost handling.
The rear suspension is all-new for the IS, and is similar to that used by the current GS range. Springs have been separated from the dampers to improve boot space, without compromising on the handling benefits of a multi-link rear end set up.
Lexus says the new suspension is good enough for a 15 percent increase in cornering grip, and F-Sport and Sports Luxury variants also gaing electronically adjustable dampers.
Power steering is electrically assisted, and brakes consist of 296mm ventilated front rotors and 290mm solid rear rotors for the IS 250 and IS 300h, and 334mm ventilated front rotors and 310mm ventilated rear rotors for the IS 350.
Dimensionally, the new IS is 80mm longer,10mm wider and 5mm taller than its predecessor, with a 70mm stretch in wheelbase length in order to boost cabin space.
Back seat passengers will appreciate the longer wheelbase the most, with Lexus claiming the new IS to have the most rear knee room in the medium luxury sedan segment.
The IS also finally gets fold-down rear seats. Previous models only had a ski port behind the centre armrest, but now the rear seatbacks are split 60/40 and can be folded down to increase boot space.
Luggage capacity has risen too, with the new rear suspension and stretched wheelbase allowing an increase in boot space to a handy 480 litres for the IS 250 and IS 350.
The location of the hybrid's high-voltage battery under the boot floor means that model also gets folding rear seats, and with 450 litres of seats-up luggage volume means it's still far more capacious than the old model.
Standard equipment is generous, even for the base model IS 250 Luxury.
Bi-xenon headlamps; heated and ventilated seats; keyless entry and ignition; heated and power-folding wing mirrors - they're all there on the base model, and are in addition to the usual luxuries of dual-zone climate control, cruise control, power-adjustable front seats, sat-nav and a reversing camera.
Lexus' new Enform connectivity system is also standard across the range (available from fourth quarter), and uses the driver's mobile phone data connection to search for nearby petrol stations (and their fuel prices), up-to-date weather info and also nearby restaurants or stores.
Drivers can also upload destinations to the car remotely from a smartphone or desktop computer, and, like Holden's MyLink system, Enform can be upgraded with new applications as they become available.
The standard audio system is an eight-speaker Pioneer unit that supports Bluetooth phone and audio integration, has a digital radio tuner and can play media via two USB audio inputs.
The F Sport trim grade adds a power-adjustable steering column (which is standard on the IS 350 Luxury, but not the IS 250), parking sensors, blind spot monitor, auto-dimming rear view mirrors, sportier front seats and a reconfigurable LCD instrument panel.
Step up to the range-topping Sport Luxury and you gain an electrically retractable rear sunblind, auto high-beam, lane departure warning and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson premium audio system.
Safety kit across the range includes stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD and brake assist, with all models bar the Sports Luxury getting eight airbags as standard.
The Sports Luxury gains two rear side airbags to bring its total to ten, and also comes with Lexus' Pre Collision System, lane depature warning, blind spot assist and active cruise control.
The 2013 Lexus IS range goes on sale from next week, with retail pricing as follows:
- IS 250 Luxury: $55,900
- IS 250 F Sport: $64,900
- IS 250 Sports Luxury: $77,900
- IS 300h Luxury: $58,900
- IS 300h F Sport: $67,900
- IS 350 Luxury: $65,000
- IS 350 F Sport: $73,000
- IS 350 Sports Luxury: $84,000
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