What is it?
Conquering the compact executive saloon segment is the ultimate litmus test for a premium manufacturer. Not because it’s the most prestigious or exclusive class, but simply because the level of competition is so fierce. For if you can defeat competitors such as the Jaguar XE, BMW 3-Series and Audi A4, not only do you gain a rolling mass-produced advert of your technological prowess, but you also secure the loyalty of first-time premium car buyers.
Yet, despite entering the UK market back in 1999 with its innovative IS, Lexus has struggled to make anything other than the faintest impression on mid-level buyers; a situation the third-generation car categorically failed to rectify. Coming without the option of a diesel engine, Lexus pitched the 2013 IS as a sporting, albeit economical (in Hybrid form at least) alternative to a sporting business saloon. Shame then, that in reality, it performed neither role convincingly.
But that’s not to say we don’t like the IS. Far from it. In terms of interior quality, appealing design and remarkable refinement, it still has the majority of the German opposition beat. Therefore, for 2017, Lexus has decided to build on what we already like – namely, exceptional craftsmanship and functional interior design – and to rectify what we don’t – poor ride quality and a lack of driver involvement.