We'll leave the critical details about the 2014 Lexus IS to your imagination largely because Lexus left them to ours.
But yesterday we slid still-disguised F-Sport trim levels of the IS 250 and IS 350 around a wet road course. We also blasted them up a canyon road with impunity. Still, the details didn't materialize.
The impressions, however, did.
What We Know So Far
When it comes to hard facts about the next-generation Lexus IS sedan, here's what we know right now: The new car's wheelbase is longer and it is marginally heavier. How much isn't clear in either case, but based on the improved rear-seat space we'd say the wheelbase is stretched at least 1.5 inches, maybe more given the 3.1-inch chasm between the current IS and the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.
Assuming our lip-reading skills are still well tuned, weight will increase about 90 pounds depending on feature content.
Engines from the two styles are carried over into the new car. That means about 200 horsepower from the 2.5-liter V6 in the IS 250 and about 300 hp from the 3.5-liter V6 in the IS 350. One major upgrade for the IS 350 will be the use of the Aisin-built eight-speed automatic from the company's IS F and LS models. IS 250 styles will continue to use the same six-speed auto. Manual transmissions, it seems, will continue to be as rare as zoomie headers at Lexus.
Body and suspension revisions are minor. Their main goal is to bring more chassis stiffness, ride control latitude and trunk space.
It isn't an all-new IS, but it is a subtly different car on the road.
How the Lexus IS Feels Behind the Wheel
Pound the new 2014 Lexus IS around a wet autocross course like we did and you'll notice it's simply not as lively as the old car. It's not as eager to change directions in many instances, but the longer wheelbase delivers stability in places the current model doesn't. Whether this matters to you probably depends a lot on how often you plan to hammer your IS around a wet autocross course.
It's what we'd expect from a Lexus sport sedan — good, sanitary fun.
But a wet autocross is a less critical dynamic measure than, say, the Nürburgring, where Toyota proves its performance cars. Junichi Furuyama, IS chief engineer, didn't say the new car is slower there, but he admitted as much by saying its time wasn't measured.
Even if this is the case, it's hard to argue with the results on the road. In that environment the car is predictable, stable and still plenty rapid. And that's exactly what Lexus wanted — a sedan that's simple, safe and still enjoyable to drive