Following a major redesign for 2014, Lexus' compact IS 350 sedan moves into 2015 with a few updates and improvements.
Functionally, there are new LED fog lights, and an upgraded backup camera adds grid lines. Inside, padding on the centre console protects the driver's knee in spirited driving and there's new piano black trim on the dash and doors. Finally, the optional F Sport packages are enhanced with new heated and ventilated sport seats.
Elsewise, the IS 350 remains the same, powered by a 3.5L V6 that makes 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque and comes paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission in RWD for, and a six-speed in cars optioned with AWD.
This is an important model in the IS lineup, going up against strong performers like the BMW 335i and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. This little Lexus brings it, though, with a strong engine that loves to be driven hard, and transmissions willing to play along. There is no doubt the IS belongs runs with the best of the compact luxury car class.
Fuel consumption estimates, according to Natural Resources Canada test methods, are 12.3/8.5 L/100 km (city/highway) for rear-drive models, and 12.6/9.1 for AWD versions.
Basic kit includes eight-way power front seats, NuLuxe synthetic leather upholstery, auto-levelling HID headlights with washers, eight-inch infotainment screen, dual-zone climate control, USB audio input, Bluetooth, leather-trimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters, intelligent keyless entry with push-button start, garage door opener, eight airbags and heated side mirrors.
While the AWD model can be optioned with a total of six packages, including three F Sport groups, the RWD version comes with the top two F Sport option packs.
AWD options include niceties like a sunroof, backup camera, heated steering wheel, ventilated seats, split-folding rear seats, 18-inch wheels, navigation, power rear sunshade, cross-traffic alert, power-adjustable steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, genuine leather, radar cruise control, LED headlights with automatic high beam, blind spot monitor and a 15-speaker stereo.
F Sport trims get the aforementioned sport seats, unique styling elements, aluminum interior trim and a performated leather-trimmed steering wheel. Move up the scale, and Lexus adds things like a driver-configurable gauge cluster and safety kit like radar cruise control.
Pricing kicks off at $47,400 for the IS 350 AWD, and $50,350 for the RWD model, which comes with more standard kit in its F Sport Series 2 starting point.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed