Summer Test-Drive: Lexus IS
June 2017
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Summer Test-Drive: Lexus IS
A Lexus IS test drive is worth your time—spend time with these highlights

The thing about Lexus performance-model test drives is that they’re like a quick trip to an amusement park—all you need is a little extra time at your next service visit to squeeze in a 45 minute thrill-ride. This summer’s recommendations: the IS 200t, IS 300, and IS 350, all of which offer an F SPORT version.
 

THE GEAR CHANGES: First of all, every Lexus IS has racing-inspired steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, so you’ll definitely want to play with those. But also have fun with the quantity of gears: the all-wheel drive models have a six-speed automatic transmission, while the IS rear-wheel drive and IS F SPORT come with an eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift transmission.

THE DRIVING MODES: The 2017 IS Drive Mode Select system, which allows you to make the car more responsive or efficient with a quick dial turn, has two performance modes. Sport S alters the powertrain for faster gear changes, and IS 350 F SPORT’s extra mode, Sport S+, tightens the suspension and increases steering response. (Test-drive tip: use the same stretch of highway to feel the differences between modes.)

THE TRACK-TUNED SUSPENSION: The IS was tested on six race major tracks, which led to—among other features—a front double-wishbone suspension system that keeps the front end rigid during hard turns, as well as a multilink rear suspension that helps increase rear grip.

THE F SPORT VERSIONS: These are worth their own comparison drives, so really take note of the extra handling features. For example, all F SPORT models have high-friction brake pads, which help increase brake responsiveness, plus the IS 350 F SPORT comes with Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), which matches each wheel’s shock stiffness to the driving conditions. (When cornering, for example, the suspension automatically tightens to help reduce body lean.)


By Brian Gill

 


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