As promised, Lexus has brought the IS facelift to the 2016 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. It’s a traditional facelift ritual for the third-generation premium compact exec, with most work going to the front end and minor enhancements made to the cabin.

As speculated, the IS, which already has a bolder mug than most, gets a more aggressive face thanks to large air intakes on the new front bumper. There’s also an evolution of the Lexus spindle grille and new headlamps. The latter are more pronounced than before and extend inward, resulting in a shape that accentuates the distinctive ‘tick’ DRLs.

The new grille folds back at a higher point, changing its top and bottom proportions. The engine hood has been reshaped to match. The F Sport grille gets a unique ‘3D’ F-mesh pattern, with black metallic coating that incorporates functional brake ducts. These brake ducts provide a sense of continuity with the side garnishes that enhance the vehicle’s aerodynamics.

At the back, there are more pronounced L-shaped LED lights that are now triple layered (previously double), and new rectangular chrome exhaust tips (was round). Ten-spoke 17-inch wheels with new designs and bright machine finishes are standard, while two new colours – Deep Blue Mica and Graphite Black Glass Flake – have been added to the catalogue.

A range of cabin improvements can be found. The multimedia display screen has grown from seven inches to 10.3 inches, and an ‘Enter’ button has been added to the side of the Remote Touch Interface (RTI) on the centre console, making the system easier to use. The audio and AC-control panel has been refined to fit within the knee bolsters (old ‘winged’ design susceptible to poor fit), with a new hairline-finish surface to boot.

Other changes are stitching on the meter binnacle, revised dials, new cupholders, a new and larger leather-wrapped palm rest with stitching for the RTI and new markings for the dash analogue clock. There are also additions and changes to the interior colour options.


The new IS’s safety equipment has been upgraded with the Lexus Safety System +. It combines Pre-Collision System, Lane Departure Alert (LDA) with Steering Assist, Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Radar Cruise Control.

No change under the hood. The rear-wheel drive IS will continue to be available as an IS 200t, IS 350 and IS 300h. The IS 200t is the most recent addition to the range, powered by the brand’s 8AR-FTS 2.0 litre turbocharged engine that made its debut in the NX SUV. The 241 hp/350 Nm motor is paired to an eight-speed torque converter automatic. Read our review of the IS 200t.

GALLERY: Lexus IS 200t F Sport