Austin, TX - I like fun facts: they’re great icebreakers, especially in a tough crowd. For example, the baby tiger was voted one of the top 10 cutest animals on the planet. Who doesn’t want to talk about tigers?! Or, statistically speaking, you are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a poisonous spider. Arachnophobia sufferers can rest easy from now on.
What does this have to do with cars; more specifically, the 2014 Lexus IS 250/350 sport sedans? Well, here’s another fun statistic: Studies show that eye contact must be held for about 8.2 seconds for that “love at first sight” feeling to occur.
When initially looking into the redesigned LED headlights of the IS sedan, I can honestly say that my lust for it occurred a little sooner. Let’s ballpark it around 5.7 seconds -- the same time in which this redesigned four-door (in IS 350 AWD trim) goes from 0-60 mph.
With a new generation of IS comes a new look on the inside and out. Whether its figure was popping up in my rearview mirror or driving in front of me, it looked sharp.
It wasn’t hard for me to appreciate its exterior beauty thanks to the 2014 Lexus IS 250’s beautiful front end, vivacious lines and toned rear end. The package works -- at least on me.
Inside the 2014 Lexus IS is an all-new cockpit. Echoing that of generations past, it’s straightforward to operate. In addition, you also have the option of a few interior colours. Red is an option with the F Sport package, and it looks sexy!
Even though it’s on its way out, the 2013 Lexus IS had a lot going for it, specifically in regards to the driver connecting to the car. That’s only been enhanced for 2014. By positioning the hip point approximately 20 mm lower and reducing the steering wheel angle by 3 degrees, the 2014 Lexus IS 250 has more of a sports car aura than a sedan -- again, another step in the right direction.
Power and then some
2014 Lexus IS buyers again have the choice of either a 2.5L or 3.5L V6 engine.
Horsepower and torque remain the same as before (204 hp/185 lb-ft, 306 hp/277 lb-ft). As a power junkie, I thought there’d be an increase. Nevertheless, when asked why those specs hadn’t changed, the engineers mentioned that the new engine tuning combined with a different exhaust help make the car feel more spirited. Is that the case? I didn’t feel let down behind the wheel, so that made me smile.
On top of the engine choices, you can pick between rear- or all-wheel drive configurations on both sedans.
F in Fun
Load up the 2014 Lexus IS with the F Sport package and expect a good time along with a few extra great features. For instance, F Sport models are fitted with an exclusive front grille and mesh pattern, new fascia, front bumper with a lower opening enlarged, and additional F Sport badging. Additionally, you’ll find LFA-inspired 18” wheels featuring a tight Y-shape spoke design.
It’s not just the outside that changes with the F designation.
Driving dynamics get a boost thanks to the specific tuning of the front and rear suspension springs, shock absorbers, Electric Power Steering (EPS), and Variable Gear Ratio Steering (VGRS). Standard on the 2014 Lexus IS 350 F SPORT models is the Adaptive Variable Suspension system (AVS) that controls shock absorber damping force at all four wheels in response to driving operations and road surface conditions.
Even driving the smaller engine of the two F Sport variants (the 250), I had a blast. There’s still pep and pizzazz, and the option to filter all that energy through the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters is fab.
One comment I had with the previous generation of IS was its interior room. It doesn’t dramatically improve for 2014. That said, you can still get four adults inside without too much quibbling.
I’m sad to say goodbye to the 6-speed manual transmission that was offered on the IS 250 RWD. It’s replaced with a 6-speed automatic transmission which is used for both the RWD and AWD versions. However, should you fall in love with the IS 350 RWD it features an 8-Speed Sport Direct Shift Automatic Transmission, which delivers smooth gear changes and was what I experienced whilst on the track.
Definitely fun. The new multi-link rear suspension of the 2014 Lexus IS 350 with the F Sport package (especially on the track) inspires confidence and has a special skip in its step. Perhaps that’s why the Lexus team practically had to drag me out of the car! I just didn’t want to stop driving it.
Pricing is TBA and will be known closer to the launch date in June.