Case study: Dynamics and detail

Case study: Dynamics and detail
Lexus has redesigned the IS compact sports sedan, revealing a car that is both more sophisticated and sporty for a New Zealand audience.

new lexus is compact sports sedan design nz

Lexus has redesigned the IS compact sports sedan, revealing a car that is both more sophisticated and sporty for a New Zealand audience.

The new IS range from Lexus has arrived in New Zealand, showcasing a redesigned exterior look and a more refined, driver-focused interior. Taking as its overriding design cues the characteristics of the ‘classic’ rear-wheel drive sports sedan – a driver-focused cabin area, flared wheel arches and a squat profile suggestive of a low centre of gravity – the new IS highlights a more performance- orientated look than ever before.

As Lexus New Zealand general manager of sales and operations Steve Prangnell suggests, this sportier, bolder design is also reinforced by a more dynamic on-road experience for driver and passengers alike.

“The new IS range’s exterior design is a fantastic re- engineering of what has come before,” says Prangnell. “The IS line’s established model DNA remains in this third generation design, but this is a totally redeveloped premium sports sedan from the ground up.

“It’s not just the exterior that has benefitted from this work either. The quality of materials and comfort inside the cabin, the high level of specification across the entire range, and the more involved driving experience the car delivers make it a compelling all-rounder.”

The expanded line-up includes F Sport performance iterations of every model as well as a new IS 300h Lexus Performance Hybrid addition to the range.

Early adopters of hybrid technology for mainstream model application, Lexus has been offering hybrid iterations of the majority of their models for many years. The arrival of the technology in the popular IS sedan range for 2013 furthers the company’s green credentials, boasting Combined fuel economy of 4.9-litres/100km and low CO2 emissions of 113g/km.

Powered by a mix of 2.5-litre and 3.5-litre V6 petrol engines (IS 250 and IS 350), as well as the addition of a newly developed 2.5-litre four cylinder Atkinson Cycle engine paired with the Lexus Hybrid Drive system (IS 300h), the new IS underwent an extensive development programme, seeing an accumulated 1.6 million kilometres travelled on both road and track during testing.

“In order to ensure the most successful balance of driver involvement and passenger comfort possible, Lexus’ engineers rethought the way they go about developing the performance aspects of the car,” says Prangnell. “The IS represents a completely new engineering development method.”

Underlining a renewed focus on the driver, all versions of the IS sports sedan now boast the intuitive Drive Mode Select system also found in GS and LS models. This system features up to four switchable driving modes – ECO, NORMAL, SPORT S and, for models fitted with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), SPORT S+. These selectable modes are engineered to optimise a preferred combination of economy, comfort, performance and handling characteristics as driver requirement and environment changes.

Additionally, the IS 350 now features an eight speed Sport Programme Direct Shift (SPDS) automatic gearbox with G AI-SHIFT Control. Derived from the IS-F sports car, the new lightweight gearbox blends super smooth linear-feeling automatic gear changes with the ability to deliver instantaneous, responsive manual shifting.

The F Sport performance package available in the IS range also features specially tuned front and rear suspension systems offering dynamic enhancement to the car’s on-road feel, along with exclusively tuned electronic power steering.

Along with a host of driver- focused attributes like sports pedals, sports front seats and a much improved driving position, the IS F Sport models also benefit from details inspired by Lexus’ celebrated LFA supercar, as Prangnell explains.

“In the F Sport models there are many design attributes inspired by the LFA’s cockpit. The F Sport multi-function leather steering

wheel is a prime example, as is an innovative eight inch LCD driver’s meter which features
a moving centre ring that displays a variety of information in the instrument cluster. For the enthusiast, the IS F Sport driver’s seat is a fantastic place to be.”

The 18” F Sport alloy wheels, headlight washer assemblies and dashboard detailing are further LFA supercar-inspired design aspects, says Prangnell, and the road presence of IS F Sport models can be underscored with two exclusive exterior colours: White Nova and Ultrasonic Blue.

Available as standard in Limited models and an option for F Sport models, the IS also incorporates the Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio system: the result of a 20,000 hour/four year collaboration between Mark Levinson Audio and Lexus. The system comprises 15-speaker 5.1 Surround Sound and a fascia that replicates the look of a home theatre system, including machined aluminium controls. The new IS range also has a comprehensive suite of safety elements onboard, including LED Daytime Running Lights, a Lexus Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management System, a Vehicle Stability Control system, Traction Control and, for Limited grade cars, Lane Departure Alert (LDA) and Active High Beam Assist.

“A new pop-up bonnet designed to lessen pedestrian injuries in a collision makes its debut in the IS range,” says Prangnell.

“And F Sport and Limited models have a Blind-Spot Monitoring system and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control as standard.

“There’s the ability to option in an active Pre-Crash safety system and Dynamic Radar Cruise Control on the entry-level IS 250 and IS 350 as well. So in terms of both on-road performance and safety, this is the most technologically advanced IS range ever.”