As a compact luxury car, the 2018 Lexus IS exists in a segment where being “good” simply isn’t good enough. Fortunately, it has all of the appeal you’d expect from the Lexus brand: unmatched reliability and quality, top resale value and truly impressive luxury. But how does it fare where performance is concerned?
The standard engine under the hood of the 2018 Lexus IS is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder rated at 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That’s a moderate amount of horsepower made even more satisfying to use by the generous torque, which generates a satisfying response on throttle application. The four-cylinder is offered only on IS 300 rear-wheel drive models, but if you go for the all-wheel drive variant you get a 3.5-liter V6 with 260 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. While this is slightly less low-end response, it means more power at high revs. Finally, the IS 350 gets the same V6 tuned up to 311 horsepower and 277 lb-ft of torque and is available with both RWD and AWD.
The 2018 Lexus IS chassis is specially tuned for the track and has been extensively tested at some of the world’s most famous circuits, including the Fuji Speedway in Japan. Engineers used innovative laser screw welding techniques, special adhesive bonding processes and varied panel thicknesses to increase body rigidity, improving cornering stability and grip. The car is also longer and wider than in previous generations, which has the dual benefit of making the car feel more planted and of adding 3 inches of extra legroom. At the front, the IS uses a double-wishbone suspension system to provide 20 percent greater sway rigidity. At the rear, a multilink rear suspension ensures the back only ever slides out when you want it to.
Low lap times are nice, but track performance doesn’t tend to be associated with a comfortable ride. The 2018 Lexus IS, however, lets you have it both ways. It comes with a drive mode selector boasting ECO, Normal and Sport S/S+ modes, providing you with a number of performance presets that you can adjust depending on where you drive and how you feel like driving. In the Sport S/S+ mode, gear changes are faster, the throttle is sharper and the suspension is firmer. There’s also a Custom mode that enables you to choose your preferred combination of settings.
So how does the 2018 Lexus IS fare where performance is concerned? All told, exceptionally well. Whether you’re driving it home for the first time or for the thousandth time, the fun engine and superb chassis can only make the experience a better one.
This article is presented by Lexus of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada.