Twenty years before the introduction of the 2021 Lexus IS last summer, the iconic rear-wheel-drive compact luxury sedan blazed a trail for the power of performance. This is the car that initiated Toyota President and master driver, Akio Toyoda, into the exhilaration of performance driving, and tapped into the desire for an emotional feel behind the wheel. In balancing a sports car with a sedan, the IS created an ideal synergy for a new kind of Lexus guest.

The IS may have evolved in shape, size, efficiency and power, but it has stayed true to its stimulating heritage, retained the craftsmanship expected from Lexus, and created a culture of style and expression all its own.

Now, the IS launches the newest chapter in its story of innovation at Lexus as the first of the lineup to feature the Lexus Driving Signature approach to design. To chart the course of this groundbreaking driving experience, here is a look back at major milestones for the model that shook up luxury and forged a time-tested bond between driver and machine.

Lexus IS Icons: Inspired Design Meets State-of-the-Art Driving Experience

By 2006, the tech era for vehicles was in full bloom and the second-generation IS sedan ushered in a suite of innovations. Keyless ignition, alluring electroluminescence display lighting, plus enhanced safety features helped create a state-of-the-art driving experience. Combined with a significant engine upgrade and a sportier suspension, the IS 250 embodied the new Lexus L-finesse design philosophy.

Adopted in the mid-2000s, the new proponents enabled a sleeker, more efficient ride with updates such as a lowered grille and redesigned rear. The new fastback profile and repeated arrowhead motif on the front fascia and side windows were based on the Japanese concept of kirikaeshi, referring to angular movements. Interiors were based on the Japanese philosophy of hazushi, in which an object retains it individuality while remaining part of the whole. Today, the IS and the full Lexus lineup is inspired by the importance of Omotenashi, the Japanese focus on anticipating a guest’s needs.

Throwback Facts:

  • The debut of the second-generation IS marked the premiere of Lexus in Japan.
  • The Chief Engineer of the second-generation Lexus IS sedan was rally driver Suguya Fukusato

The second-gen IS caught on quickly. Forbes magazine reported it was one of the top luxury cars sold, as sales for this model increased in the U.S. by 332 percent.

The Lexus IS sedan continues to evolve, with the ultimate goal of delivering a new generation of Lexus vehicles that is more balanced, refined in control, and confident than ever before. Check out the next icon in the making, the new 2021 Lexus IS, here.

Originally published February 25, 2021

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