Lexus has a new millionaire with global sales of the IS range of sports saloons moving into seven figures at the end of July. It’s a big achievement for a car that was the first Lexus to be designed primarily for the European market, a region where its popularity remains strong today. In fact, one in five Lexus IS sold worldwide is sold in Europe.
Seventeen years ago, Lexus’ intention was for the IS to attract new, younger customers to the brand; being a sporty, compact saloon offering sharp styling, a responsive straight-six 2.0-litre engine and rear-wheel drive.
As the third Lexus to debut in Europe after the original LS and GS models, it succeeded in giving the company a presence in a large and highly competitive part of the premium car market, its outstanding driving dynamics and sporting profile matched by high equipment and safety levels. Lexus’s fast-growing reputation for excellent quality and customer service further helped the IS win customer interest, and the range soon expanded to include the more powerful 3.0-litre IS 300 and, from 2001, the novel SportCross compact wagon.
The current, third generation IS marked the beginning of a new era for the model with the introduction of Lexus Hybrid Drive to the range for the first time. Since the model’s launch in 2013, the IS 300h has proved by far the most popular choice for European customers, claiming 90 per cent of IS sales.
The full hybrid model delivers exceptional smoothness and efficiency while preserving the driver rewards that have traditionally been part of the IS’s special appeal. The powertrain combines a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle petrol engine with a compact, powerful electric motor for smooth and responsive performance, supported by the use of Dual VVT-i intelligent variable valve timing, Lexus’s D-4S fuel injection technology and a high-efficiency exhaust gas recirculation system. The advanced engineering delivers unprecedented low exhaust emissions and fuel economy for the IS, with official performance figures from 97 g/km of CO2 and 4.3 l/100km, strengthening the model’s attractiveness in a market where environmental performance and ownership costs are key customer considerations.
The IS also offers a 2.0-litre turbo engine with innovative D-4ST fuel injection technology for both fuel economy and instantaneous torque. The Lexus IS 200t delivers 245 DIN hp with a maximum torque of 350 Nm. Capable of rapid acceleration up to a top speed of 230 km/h, its eight speed Sport Direct Shift transmission was developed for the high-performance RC F.
The IS continues to be a core part of Lexus’s worldwide model range, currently marketed in more than 70 countries and achieving sales of more than 6,000 units every month.