Since taking the helm at Toyota Motor Company in 2009, president and CEO Akio Toyoda has been pushing hard for a more innovative direction. So far many of the company's talking points have been downplayed as hype, but the 2014 fleet looks to change that. Perhaps no other model delivers more assuredly than the 2014 IS F Sport, an entry-level luxury sports sedan that is ready to silence naysayers with an imposing spindle grille.
The aesthetics of the 2014 model are significantly evolved, starting with the large air intake and continuing into the swooshing LEDs that accentuate a stouter, wider stance. Without sacrificing the serenity or comfort associated with Lexus, chief engineer Junichi Furuyama was able to make a car that looks as entertaining as it drives. And it's not just the design crowd that has taken note. Car and Driver recently ranked the IS F Sport over the Cadillac ATS 3.6 and the BMW 335i in a cross-comparison of sports sedans, a feat that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
On the interior, foam-injected seats snugly contour the driver on three sides—a helpful bit of comfort as we rounded corners at Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina. The most significant upgrades have been made in fine-tuning the handling, resulting in a much more responsive ride. Part of that process, including welding or "body bonding" on the chassis, is to increase rigidity and reduce noise.
While the nav and Enform app suite still leave something to be desired, Lexus gives user interface nerds something to swoon over with the addition of a digital-analog TFT LCD instrument panel that physically slides to the right when shifting view modes. Similar to the tachometer used on the LFA supercar, the detail proves that the F Sport designation goes beyond marginal tuning improvements.
The 2014 Lexus IS will be available later this year in 250 and 350 versions starting at $35,950 with the F Sport package starting at $2,675.
Images by James Thorne