[content_box title=”2005-2013 Lexus IS (XE20)”]Building upon the success of the first IS-series, Lexus launched its second generation version in 2005. And it really was a case of all change – both visually and technically. The new IS was now longer and wider and was styled to Lexus’ ‘L-Finesse’ philosophy, allying it visually to the larger GS and – especially – LS models. The use of aluminium in its construction managed to keep the weight gain down to an acceptable 50kg or so, depending on the car – impressive considering the body was also stronger and stiffer.
But the mixture of relatively compact dimensions, excellent rear-wheel drive handling, and impeccable build quality marked this out as more of the same – despite the differences. And there were many. In a marketing sense, the XE20 marked an important point in the development of its maker, as it saw the end of the Toyota Altezza – because in Japan, these cars were now sold under the Lexus banner. The XE20 was available (officially for the first time in the UK) with an entry-level four-cylinder power unit (although not in the UK); and it would also be the first to be offered with the option of a four-cylinder turbo diesel.
The diversification continued – all straight-sixes were replaced by new direct-injection V6s, ranging in capacity from 2.5- to 3.5-litres (IS250 to IS350). Once again, two body-styles were offered – but this time around, the four-door saloon was joined later by a two-door coupe-cabriolet, known as the IS-C.
Once again, the IS majored on delivering a sporting drive, with the bulk-seller in the UK – the IS250 – being a car that thrived on revs to deliver its best performance. But this was no hardship, as the engine was both quiet and smooth, and the six-speed gearbox light and positive to used. Like its predecessor, the handling and ride were both excellent – the double-wishbone suspended IS was firm and well-damped, giving the driver plenty of confidence. Like the previous IS, the XE20 was set-up to deliver sure-footed handling at high-speed at the expense of some low-speed smoothness.
In 2007, the 417bhp 5.0-litre V8 powered IS-F was added to the range. The IS-F was pitched directly at the established mid-sized super-saloons, such as the BMW M3, Mercedes-Benz C63AMG, and Audi RS4. A year later, the coupe-cabriolet IS-250C was unveiled, and a notable feature of the new folding-hardtop Lexus, was that it maintained much of the saloon’s refinement, roof up. The coupe-cabriolet IS was launched to coincide with the 2008 facelift. Development of the car continued throughout its life – so in 2010, the IS220d was detuned (by 25bhp) to become the cleaner, more economical IS200d, and a number of styling changes were incorporated – as well as the arrival of the popular F-Sport model.
[news category=’1201′ count=”6″ title=”Lexus IS Archive” align=”left” more=’/category/2005-2013-lexus-is/’]