NEW FOR 2015:

– Trim level adjustments for IS Sedan
– RWD IS models come standard with F Sport package
– IS C unchanged
– IS F discontinued

When Lexus launched the third-generation IS Sedan last year, it fired a powerful opening salvo at BMW’s 3 Series and the rest of the compact premium sector: the Lexus sports sedan was back, and in a big way. In the year since its launch, the IS has had praise heaped upon it for its head-turning style, exemplary build quality, and most importantly for buyers concerned with snaking backroads, the way it drove.

Beyond being better to drive, the new IS is also an easier car to live with. A more rigid chassis with key sections copped from the GS allowed for a smoother ride, while a longer wheelbase freed up space for rear-seat passengers.

Two motors are on offer to IS buyers. The IS 250 uses a 2.5-litre direct-injected V6 that makes 204 hp, while the IS 350 uses a 3.5-litre V6 that develops 306 hp. As before, all-wheel drive is an option on both motors. Most IS models use a six-speed automatic, the exception being rear-drive IS 350 Sedan, which use an eight-speed ‘box. Although Lexus offers a hybrid version (IS 300h) for certain markets, it is unavailable here.

Lexus went gung-ho when it launched the IS Sedan with 22 different packages spread across four models; for 2015, it’s been pruned back to a more reasonable 17. For the most part, casualties happened on rear-drive models.

Regardless of which variant you choose, the following are included: eight-way power heated NuLuxe synthetic leather seats, LED foglamps, 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 trims (there are 10) include: sport-tuned suspension, F Sport seats with heating and ventilation, F Sport specific front grille and bumper, 18-inch wheels, perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, aluminum interior trim. F Sport Series 2 models (IS 250 RWD, IS 250 AWD, IS 350 AWD), get a reverse camera, cross-traffic alert, heated F-Sport steering wheel), a power moonroof, and more. Top-of-the-line F Sport Series 3 models (IS 250 AWD, IS 350 RWD, IS 350 AWD) also receive an LFA-inspired reconfigurable instrument cluster, adaptive suspension, as well as technology amenities like radar cruise control with pre-collision warning.

Cars equipped with the Premium Package (IS 250 AWD) include a power moonroof, reverse camera, rear side airbags, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, ventilated seats, split-folding rear seats, and 18-inch wheels and tires.

Models with the Luxury Package (IS 250 AWD, IS 350 AWD) 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 (IS 350 AWD) 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 Convertible (IS C) carries on for another year – while not exactly the most popular convertible on the market, Lexus has deemed its presence important enough to continue production in both 250 and 350 forms. It carries on into 2015 unchanged. This year will likely be its last year in production; its logical successor would be an RC Convertible.

For now, though, the IS 250 C 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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