The Lexus IS facelift has appeared on the official Lexus Malaysia website, listed as ‘coming soon’ by the premium brand. The facelifted IS made its debut in April last year and went on sale in Japan last October. When here, it will replace the pre-minor change third-gen IS that has been sold locally since mid 2013.

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

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At the back, there are more pronounced L-shaped LED lights that are now triple layered (previously double), and new rectangular chrome exhaust tips (were 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, globally.

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 include 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 base Lexus Premium Audio sound system now gets 10 speakers (up from eight), while the Mark Levinson option has been retuned for a more accurate and 3D sound.

Now, the teaser website page mentions ‘confidence-inspiring AWD models’ and ‘explore the IS 350’, but we believe that the local IS range will continue with the existing variants, namely the turbocharged IS 200t and the hybrid IS 300h. The mentions are probably part of an overseas page that was lifted wholesale. In any case, there should be little demand for an AWD and/or big-engined variant of an already niche model.

The IS 200t, launched here in 2015, is powered by the 8AR-FTS 2.0 litre turbocharged engine also found in the NX and RX SUVs. The in-house designed twin-scroll turbo engine with Dual VVT-iW (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Wide) pushes out 241 hp at 5,800 rpm and 350 Nm from 1,650 to 4,400 rpm in the sedan, and is paired to an eight-speed torque converter automatic sending drive to the rear wheels.

GALLERY: Lexus IS facelift, Japan-spec


GALLERY: Pre-facelift Lexus IS 200t F Sport