NEW FOR 2014:

– New IS Sedan
– IS C unchanged
– IS F consolidated into one trim level

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Lexus has been religiously following this advice since it launched the first IS back in 2001. An all-new third-generation model has just arrived on the scene, and as with the last two generations of IS, it has the 3 Series firmly in its crosshairs.

The latest IS addresses key criticisms of the old model — a longer wheelbase makes for greater rear legroom, while a redesigned cockpit enables a sportier driving position. Lexus engineers borrowed key elements of the IS’ platform from the critically acclaimed GS, too, in order to improve the compact sedan’s handling agility and ride comfort. Just about the only thing that hasn’t gotten bigger on the new car is the trunk.

Most IS customers didn’t have too many gripes about the powertrains, so Lexus carried them over. The IS 250 continues with a 2.5-litre direct-injected V6, and the IS 350 uses a 3.5-litre variant of the same motor making 306 hp. As before, all-wheel drive is an option for both. One caveat: rear-drive IS 350s get a new eight-speed automatic from the IS F; the rest make do with a six-speed ‘box. Although Lexus offers a hybrid version (IS 300h) for certain markets, it is unavailable here.

Speaking of the IS F, although Lexus has yet to announce an all-new IS F, the rip-roaring V8 sedan is still in production. It carries over into 2014 unchanged, but for equipment levels. The sole model is dressed to the nines with all former options now standard.

The IS C also stays the executioner’s scythe – the folding hardtop-roof cabriolet continues to be offered in 250 and 350 guise. No, the eight-speed auto featured in the IS 350 Sedan is not offered here.

The new IS sedan has the greatest choice when it comes to trim and option packages. Regardless of which you choose, the following is included: eight-way power heated NuLuxe synthetic leather seats, HID headlamps with washer jets, an 8-inch infotainment screen, dual-zone climate control, USB audio input, Bluetooth, leather-wrapped steering wheel, smart key with push-button start, and more.

All F-Sport packages (there are 10 split across all IS sedans) include: sport suspension tuning, F Sport seats, F Sport specific front grille and bumper, 18-inch wheels, perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum interior trim. Top-of-the-line F Sport models also receive an LFA-inspired reconfigurable instrument cluster, as well as technology amenities like radar cruise control with pre-collision warning.

Models with the Premium Package include a power moonroof, reverse camera, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, ventilated seats, split-folding rear seats, and 18-inch wheels and tires.

Models with the Luxury Package add navigation, a power rear sunshade, cross-traffic alert, power tilt and telescoping steering column, rain-sensing wipers and more.

Models with the Executive Package receive genuine leather upholstery, radar cruise control with pre-collision warning, LED headlamps with automatic high-beam, blind-spot monitor, and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo system.

The IS F now includes standard navigation, Bluetooth, carbon fibre rear spoiler, Alcantara door inserts, a 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, dual-zone climate control, eight-way heated leather sports seats, HID headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, Brembo brakes, 19-inch forged aluminum wheels, and more.

The IS C 250 is available in standard and F Sport trim. All feature leather upholstered seats, 8-way power front seats, smart key with push-button start, rain-sensing wipers, HID lights, and 18-inch wheels. F-Sport trim adds navigation, reverse camera, sport suspension, an F Sport body kit, plus F Sport specific wheels, leather seats, and grille.

The IS 350 C comes equipped with the F-Sport trim package as standard equipment with the aforementioned accoutrements, but with the larger 3.5-litre V6 engine.

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