In one week, Lexus will reveal its new 2021 IS compact sports sedan. The current generation IS sports sedan has been in service since it was revealed in 2012 at the North American International Auto Show. The outgoing generation notably beat the BMW 3 Series in not one, but two enthusiast magazine comparisons.
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Lexus is not saying much about the all-new 2021 IS sports sedan. A press release was issued saying only that the new IS sports sedan will be "Dressed to thrill." We don't doubt it will be handsome, but we do worry it will not meet our expectations. What are they? Here is the rundown of our wishlist for the all-new IS Sports sedan from Lexus. Let's of course assume the new IS is still on a rear-wheel drive platform with optional AWD. If it isn't, this is the last story we will be writing about it anyway.
First Lexus IS Sports Sedan Wish - Be Better Than the Tesla Model 3
When the last generation debuted, it was good enough to beat the class champion, the BMW 3 Series in both a Car and Driver and Road and Track comparison test. The BMW 3 Series is no longer the segment leader in any respect, except perhaps interior quality and amenities.
Will Lexus produce a better sports sedan than the Model 3? If so, it had better have insane torque at all RPMs. Do we want it to be an all-electric? Sure, why not? The future of performance vehicles is all-electric, or battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). To compete with Tesla, the Lexus IS will have to have at least 350 lb-ft of torque at "power pedal" tip-in. It will also need to have an all-electric range of a minimum of 300 miles. Even a fantastic gasoline engine would be a disappointment. But we could live with it if it earned a 40 MPG Combined EPA rating and had amazing off-the-line torque and power over 350 hp in its standard trim.
Lexus IS Sports Sedan Performance Metrics
Since the Lexus IS is not a sedan, but a sports sedan, the IS will need to have a 0-60 MPH time of better than 5 seconds in its standard, or base trim. A performance variant will need to run to 60 in under 4 seconds. The V6 Camry is already capable of a 0-60 MPH run in the fives. So, of course, this "sports sedan" must be faster, right?
Related Story: 2015 Lexus RC F destroys the 2014 IS F on track
Interior Features and Requirements
We love the way Lexus styles its vehicles. However, our trust for any Toyota or Lexus infotainment system evaporated over the past five years. Let's not get tricky. Here is the benchmark: Wireless Android Auto and Apple Car Play in every trim. A screen we can operate with one finger and no mouse, and a head-up display and gauge cluster that displays the Google Maps and Waze information we want. Nobody cares if the next Lexus has telematics, Alexa, and a premium sound system. It is expected.
We also want the paddles on the steering wheel to do something interesting. Either have them put the vehicle into a more sporting attitude, or allow us to control regenerative braking with them. For the love of Mike, don't stick a manual transmission in the thing. Folks who "want" manuals don't buy $60K IS sports sedans. That has been proven by decades of sales data.
One Last Thing...
We have one added expectation from Lexus, and we think the company can pull this off. We want a compact spare tire and for all four of the tires on the car to be the same size as one another. Why? We want to be able to take the car on long "grand tours." And we don't want to have to be towed if we damage a tire. When we buy the replacement tire, we want it to be able to join the other three in rotation. Not difficult. Very few automakers do this.
So that's our hope and dream. Simply that Lexus will produce a sports sedan that is again able to unseat the best in the segment. We want the best drivetrain, the best infotainment, performance that is worthy of the name sports sedan, and a tire setup that doesn't become a hassle during ownership.
Sadly, we expect that Lexus may go zero for four in the wish list when it unveils the new IS in a week. Tell us what your expectations are in the comments below. If you've owned and IS, tell us what drew you to it.
John Goreham is not just a dreamer when it comes to IS sports sedans. He owned the predecessor to the IS, the Toyota Supra. He also owned an IS 350C. He has tracked every performance variant of the Lexus IS line, including the IS F. John's a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. In 2008 he retired from a career in semiconductor manufacturing and Bio-tech to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin