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Earlier than you’ve even pressed its starter button, you’re already aware of plenty of causes most sports-sedan consumers veer away from the 2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport.

The IS’s decidedly Japanese styling, which I’m personally fairly keen on however many TTAC authors detest, is an on the spot turn-off for luxury-car consumers preferring subdued Teutonic touches. The Lexus IS is a look-at-me automobile, particularly with $595 Ultrasonic Blue Mica and F Sport bodywork.

The third-gen Lexus IS can also be bizarrely packaged. Driver’s ingress is made practically insupportable by a small aperture. The doorframe lusts after your proper hip; the middle tunnel is ready to aggressively greet your proper knee. Coming into the IS is like crawling below your kitchen desk. Certain, you’ll match when you’re below there, however grownup frames aren’t designed for such maneuvers.

Extra apparent, now that you just’re primed to ignite the three.5-liter, 306-horsepower naturally aspirated V6, is the array of buttons and switches and controllers and contraptions that embody the cabin’s frontal lobe. Few are the place you’d count on them to be. Many don’t function within the standard trend to which you’ve grown accustomed.

Patrons could possibly be postpone by the 2017 Lexus IS350’s design, by its awkward entry, by its uncommon ergonomics, or by all three components. If that’s the case, they’re lacking out on an exceptionally balanced driver’s automobile.

2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD profile - Image: © Timothy CainHouse Oddity

It’s not as if the IS350 F Sport’s design received’t enchantment to anybody apart from yours really — I’m not the solely one who loves the look of this automobile. Distinctive Lexus cues arguably work finest on the corporate’s rear-wheel-drive architectures. That rising line that disappears on the rear wheel after which seems once more beneath the taillight provides character. The headlights and huge spindle grille inform a narrative of shock.

This a lot is definite: the Lexus IS350 doesn’t seem like anything on the street.

The IS’s odd packaging additionally pays dividends in sure areas. The big 13.Eight-cubic-foot trunk is enhanced by a squared-off form that’s able to cargo hauling above its dimensional class. The rear seat, whereas not expansive, is comfy sufficient for 2 adults and completely adequate for youngsters — the identical can’t be stated for all IS opponents. And when you’ve managed to wriggle your approach into the driving force’s seat, you’ll be charmed. The seat on this F Sport mannequin is among the many best possible I’ve sat on this yr.

As for the bewildering inside array, not less than it’s consultant of a broad characteristic rely. Blind-spot monitoring and sunshade controls are to the left of the steering wheel. The sign stalk is of the return-to-center selection. Steering wheel controls embody, on the appropriate aspect, removed from the BSM button, tiny buttons for lane-departure warning and adaptive cruise management. Common cruise-control features are managed by a brief stalk beneath the upshift paddle. On the middle stack, driver and passenger temperatures are chosen on touch-sensitive sliders, between which reside 11 local weather buttons and one additional button Lexus put in for a perform this automobile lacks. Hazard lights sit instantly to the south, above the audio controls. Bless’em, there are even quantity and tuning knobs. The duo is mated to 6 extra minute buttons for audio.

Farther down the stack are giant sq. buttons for seat heating and cooling in addition to the heated steering wheel. Alongside the gated shifter is Lexus’ mouse, not at all the simplest technique of working the widescreen infotainment cluster even when aided by 4 shortcut buttons (together with an enter button to your thumb) and a ahead/again rocker. Drive modes are chosen alongside your proper thigh with a rotary knob, an ESC-off button, and a separate Snow mode button. Sunroof controls, up above, function bookends to 4 gentle switches.

Let your fingers do the strolling.2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD rear - Image: © Timothy CainIncredible Voyage

Mode swings don’t change the 2017 Lexus IS350 F-Sport from a canine with a Valium to a canine with a bone. Eco to Regular to Sport S to Sport S+ is a progressive wave. Certainly, progressive is the important thing phrase in Lexus’ IS vernacular. It describes the best way the engine responds to throttle inputs, not like so a lot of as we speak’s smaller turbocharged engines. Progressive: sure, that’s the best way the IS350 F Sport’s steering weight builds up, appropriately so, when a nook tightens and your inputs grow to be extra pressing. Brake really feel is spot on. The six-speed computerized’s shifts are inconspicuous once they should be, however hastier and ever extra crisply outlined the extra you require them to be.

The 2017 Lexus IS350 will not be a a number of character sort of a automobile. A flick of a software-altering change doesn’t lead to an ES-aping IS350 that exchanges its id for an LFA-copying IS350. You, the IS350 F Sport driver, are the change. This Lexus is responsive, it locations the onus on you, eager driver that you’re.2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD interior - Image: © Timothy CainBecause of this, in some ways the 2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD might come throughout as a automobile that’s a decade late to the social gathering. The engine recreation, as an example, has moved on. Drivers in 2017 don’t need to construct revs — pfft, don’t be so foolish — they need an amazing slug of torque simply off idle. Drivers as we speak need their sporty automobiles to shout, “Sporty!” with suspensions that refuse to droop — not Lexus ISs that reveal their suspensions’ athleticism in varied team-building workouts. Drivers as we speak don’t need dealing with — they need grip.

Regardless of low-profile tires — 225/40R18 fronts, 255/35R18 rears on Bridgestone Turanzas — the IS350 F Sport rides remarkably nicely. Upping the ante with the drive-mode selector received’t lead to adaptive dampers that sorely diminish experience consolation, both, nor does it induce unnatural weighting within the steering. The IS350 persists as an IS350, simply in barely bigger or lesser portions.2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD interior - Image: © Timothy CainMeaning the 306-horsepower V6 all the time pleases however doesn’t wow. The all-wheel-drive IS350’s six-speed computerized (RWD fashions get an eight-speed) by no means awes however by no means disappoints. Cornering prowess is notable due to the IS350’s means to cosset, not essentially due to outright roadholding mastery. There’s a stage of interactivity, however by no means a lot really feel typical Lexus consumer shall be overwhelmed by the incoming communiqués.

Whereas evidently not a dynamic masterpiece, the 2017 Lexus IS350 AWD F Sport is constantly composed and appealingly balanced. That’s more and more a misplaced artwork.

Trendy Love

The Lexus IS350 operates in an area the place top-tier German opponents have made gouging an artwork kind. Don’t be fooled by their base costs. Whereas IS350s start at $42,365, much like a $41,245 BMW 330i, the worth comparability is deceiving. The 330i is now a 2.0T affair. IS350-comparable energy in a Three Collection requires spending $49,945 on a (quicker-than-IS350) 340i.

However to construct a 340i outfitted like this luxuriously outfitted IS350 AWD F Sport (all-wheel drive, sporting extras, heated steering wheel, Mark Levinson audio, energy rear sunshade, ventilated entrance seats, full suite of lively security package) would require greater than $60,000 in BMW’s configurator.

The Genesis G70 apparently doesn’t symbolize the daybreak of the value-minded entry-luxury sports activities sedan.2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD interior detail - Image: © Timothy CainCh-Ch-Adjustments
However does the IS350 AWD F Sport inform all the Lexus IS story? Sadly not. The character swings that don’t happen on this explicit automobile do, the truth is, seem throughout the IS vary. The entry-level IS Turbo’s 2.0T, as an example, is poorly linked to an uncooperative eight-speed computerized. The IS300’s Three.5-liter V6, for instance, is de-powered however consumes simply as a lot gas because the IS350’s Three.5-liter.

Solely in its most iteration does Lexus permit the IS’s character to shine by. It’s by no means smart to imagine that the habits one encounters in a Chevrolet Silverado with a 6.2-liter V8 and 22-inch wheels shall be much like these of a 5.Three-liter truck on 18s with 9.5 extra inches of wheelbase. Likewise, within the Lexus IS’s case, don’t assume this explicit IS350 AWD F Sport’s balanced response to the sports-sedan questions of our time shall be answered the identical approach by less expensive IS variants.2017 Lexus IS350 F Sport AWD rear three quarter - Image: © Timothy CainUnderneath Stress

No matter how pleasurable the 2017 Lexus IS350 is to drive, whatever the maladies you’re prepared to miss, there are compelling causes to look elsewhere.

The BMW Three Collection stays an apparent alternative, and received’t quickly lose that standing. Plus, the 3er’s greater engines are mighty. Not not like the Lexus, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class supplies an interesting mix of consolation and athleticism, and it does so with a extra conventionally enticing and extra clearly luxurious inside, albeit with an inexpensive, tacked-on, imitation iPad. The Audi A4 meshes a lot of the phase’s finest attributes and does so with few faults, nevertheless it doesn’t provide the man-machine connection of the Lexus. There are different, much less apparent alternate options from Infiniti, Alfa Romeo, Jaguar, Acura, and Cadillac, as nicely.

Of the roughly 211,000 U.S. consumers who bought or leased a car within the Lexus IS’s phase through the first eight months of 2017, 194,000 selected a kind of different automobiles, not the Lexus IS. Did these 194,000 consumers make a mistake? Not invariably, however there are certainly 1000’s who, unable to look previous a couple of eccentricities, don’t know what they’re lacking.

[Images: © Timothy Cain]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Fact About Automobiles and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.internet. Comply with on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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