Role re­ver­sal

The new Lexus could be the one if you want fun as a stan­dard fit­ting

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - PRESTIGE - PAUL GOVER

and cushy with the lat­est 3 Se­ries and, af­ter driv­ing a line-up of dis­guised Lexus pro­to­types in the US, I feel that the new IS is prob­a­bly now the ul­ti­mate driv­ing ma­chine.

A one-day run is not enough for a fi­nal ver­dict but I have rarely pushed a car as hard as I did in the Cal­i­for­nia canyons — or hus­tled as vig­or­ously as I did on the Santa Anita race­way — with­out find­ing some­thing big to com­plain about.

Yes, the IS could do with more punch as both a 250 and a 350. I’m not a fan of plumb­ing en­gine noise into the cabin, and one sus­pen­sion set- up is sig­nif­i­cantly bet­ter for grip and com­fort.

But those are rel­a­tively small things.

Also, I can’t com­ment on the fi­nal fin­ish or equip­ment, be­cause the pro­to­types were some way from show­room stan­dard and the cabin was vur­tu­ally cov­ered with me­tres of black-out tape.

But the new IS is im­proved in many ar­eas, fi­nally get­ting a us­able rear seat and a much big­ger boot, up to 10 airbags and a stan­dard re­vers­ing cam­era with park­ing radar. And it’s a great drive. There is noth­ing to report on prices be­cause the car will not be stripped of its cam­ou­flage un­til the Detroit mo­tor show in Jan­uary and Aus­tralian de­liv­er­ies do not be­gin un­til the sec­ond half of next year. Still, based on Toy­ota’s red-pen work this year on the show­room stick­ers of the all- new 86 and Corolla, it would be no sur­prise to see a slight drop from the cur­rent base prices of $55,800 for the IS250 and $64,300 for the IS350.

This is my sec­ond deep dive with Lexus af­ter a pre­view drive of the GS last year but, land­ing in Los An­ge­les, I’m aware that the new IS is the most im­por­tant car in the his­tory of Lexus.

The orig­i­nal LS400 was a big­ger gam­ble but this is the car that must bring younger buy­ers to the brand and fi­nally give Lexus a pres­tige starter car that’s more than just a nice ride. That’s why chief en­gi­neer Ju­nichi Fu­ruyama has only brought F Sport ver­sions to LA and only seems in­ter­ested in the way the car drives. There is noth­ing about com­fort or quiet­ness in his short, sharp pre­sen­ta­tion and he only talks about rear-seat space when I raise the ob­vi­ous ques­tion.

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