As you might expect, the Lexus doesn't want for extra body control or rolling refinement. On the smaller of two available wheel sizes, it rode over broken surfaces very quietly.
Perhaps not with as much bigger-bump compliance as we’d like, but then the wafting gait of an old-school Jaguar or Mercedes has never been Lexus’s preferred route towards cabin isolation. Ride comfort can often come down to personal taste, and those who like a steady, impervious gait will like what they find here.
But ‘those people’ are highly likely to number within the Lexus’s inherited clientele, you’d think. If you’re new to the IS – whether you’re attracted by its athletic looks or the ‘sporty’ marketing – you’ll have come in search of a bit of dynamic poise and piquancy, as well as for its refinement.
That’s exactly what you’ll uncover: a little bit extra. Relative to the low standards of the previous IS, this car seems a remarkably natural-feeling and very pleasing handler indeed. There’s crispness and feedback to the steering and proper rear-drive purity and balance to the cornering.
If you opt for the Adaptive Variable Suspension system, delivered through adaptive dampers, it's body control and ride is even better – but this option's only offered on the IS300h F-Sport.
In either specification the Lexus teeters towards delivering some genuine driver entertainment, only being stopped by – in the case of the hybrid model – the roadblock of a powertrain, the limited grip of the car’s efficiency-biased tyres and an intrusive stability control system. The V6 suffers from similar traits, and just lacks the necessary power and mid-range torque for stirring acceleration and enjoyment.
As it is, we’d applaud Lexus for its efforts, because they’re telling. But we also couldn’t fail to point out the elephant in the room: that the IS’s new dynamic talents so often serve to make the limitations of that powertrain all the more plain. And even less easy to forgive.