20 June 2020
2021 Lexus IS: Refreshed with a redesign, sharper dynamics and new tech

The first official photos and details of the ‘new’ Lexus IS which will be available in Singapore by the end of this year

The 2021 Lexus IS features a redesigned front end

SINGAPORE – These days, the term ‘new’ is used quite loosely. While the official press release calls this the New Lexus IS, this car is for all intents and purposes, a thoroughly facelifted model. While the front and rear ends look distinctly different from the outgoing IS, the drivetrain remains unchanged.

Expect sharper handling in the 2021 Lexus IS

This means that the Lexus IS sold in Singapore will get the IS 300 variant which is powered by a 241hp 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged motor.

Local representatives of Lexus have confirmed with AutoApp that the new IS will be on sale in Singapore by the end of 2020.

See the 2021 Lexus IS tested at the new Toyota Technical Centre in Shimoyama, Japan

The hybrid version, the IS 300h will also be continue to be offered with a 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder unit that works in tandem with a 105kW electric motor powered by a 192-cell Nickel-metal Hydride (Ni-MH) battery for a combined system output of 219hp.

While the drivetrain remains unchanged in the new Lexus IS, the Japanese carmaker has focused its efforts on sharpening the car’s rear-wheel drive chassis and suspension to impart even better drivability.

Attention has been paid in particular to improving the steering feedback so its progression feels more linear. This in turn, allows for more precise handling which inspires confidence in the driver.


While Lexus claims that the chassis and suspension systems were developed on many of the world’s best-known circuits and proving grounds, the IS spent was mostly honed on the new Toyota Technical Centre Shimonyama which opened in April 2019.

The 2021 Lexus IS was extensively tested at Toyota Technical Centre Shimonyama

Lexus’ parent company Toyota prefers to call this facility a country road course rather than a test track although the auto giant admits to being inspired by the iconic Nurburgring Nordschleife.

Even the hybrid variant of the IS which typically prioritises fuel efficiency over performance is said to now feel sportier to drive by recalibrating the accelerator pedal input.

The 8-speed automatic gearbox of the 2.0-litre turbocharged model, the IS 300, features adaptive transmission control that has been remapped with a better logic to select the appropriate gear for the given accelerator pedal position.

Body rigidity is also said to be improved with reinforcements to welding points from the radiator side supports all the way to the C-pillar. The result is a further reduction of unwanted noise and vibration as well as sharper handling response. This combination of ride refinement along with improved driving performance might seem contradictory to some. However the Japanese carmaker calls this: “Lexus Driving Signature”.

New infotainment and safety tech

Those who can’t live without Apple CarPlay will be glad to know that the 2021 will get this with the optional new 10.3-inch infotainment touchscreen. The native navigation interface has never been a Lexus forte. However, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto will be a welcome workaround.

It remains to be seen however, if the full suite of Lexus Safety System+ technologies will be available for the IS in Singapore.


Using a combination of sensors, a built-in camera and millimeter wave radar, the Lexus Safety System+ features a Pre-Collision system, Lane Tracing Assist and pedestrian and cyclist alerts when you’re turning out into in main road.


The 2021 model adds Emergency Steering Assist and Road Sign Assist amongst others. Exclusive to the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM), the Lexus IS also features Low Speed Acceleration Control. This supports the prevention of collisions caused by accidental pedal ‘misapplications’ in low speed driving conditions.

Another party trick is Driver Emergency Stop Assist. If a driver loses consciousness, the system will initially try to alert the driver with audible and visual alerts as well as gentle deceleration. If the driver is still unresponsive, the system activates the hazard lights and horn to alert other road users. Eventually, the Driver Emergency Stop Assist system will autonomously pull over and bring the car to a complete stop, unlocks the doors and automatically call the emergency services for help.