A history of the Lexus IS
A brief look at the Lexus IS from its development all the way through to how it appears today on the roads.
Lexus originally released the IS as a luxury or executive car which was sold in America and Europe from 1998 onwards. The car was known as the Toyota Altezza until Lexus was allowed its own name under the Toyota brand. Originally only sold in the USA when it was unveiled, the Lexus was shown off for sale in Europe in 1999.
Standing for Intelligent Sport, the IS signature was to form a new way of considering things by the Japanese creators. A higher emphasis was placed on the aspect of performance as the car’s remit was to compete with sport sedans made by the Europeans. The first generation was known as the XE10 and underwent minor changes between 1998-2000.
By the turn of the millennium a hatchback version of the Lexus IS was introduced. This new A300 featured a five speed manual gearbox and unique interior elements that were not featured in any other Lexus model such as HID headlights and a pop up navigation screen.
In 2005 the IS was given a complete makeover. Debuted at the New York Motor Show in 2005, the new IS featured a direct injection system and was the first entry-luxury performance sedan to feature a Pre-Collision System. The IS Mark II also represented the first model to reflect the marque’s new L-finesse design philosophy. The new model sported sleek coupe-like lines and a fastback profile. The interior featured memory leather seats, LED interior lighting accents and SmartAccess keyless entry. The second generation IS won a host of awards including being named the Executive Car of the Year by Top Gear in 2006.
In late 2006 Lexus announced the existence of a high performance variant of the IS Mark II. Introduced as the launch product of the manufacturer’s F marque at the North American Auto Show in January 2007, the ISF could race from 0-60mph in 4.6 seconds and boasted a top speed of 170mph.
A new hardtop convertible IS variant was debuted at the Paris Motor Show in October 2008. The following year the variant went on the sale in the US and Europe and the original IS was treated to a mini styling revamp in the same year.