The evolution of an icon: A drive down memory lane with the Lexus IS

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2001 Lexus IS
2001 Lexus IS
Lexus Media

The first Lexus IS model launched globally in 2000.

Pricing for the current IS range starts from R841 300.

Lexus is the luxury arm of Toyota.

For more motoring stories, visit Wheels24.


It might have evolved in shape, size, efficiency, and performance, but the Lexus IS has established itself as a complete premium package the world over.

The first model made its debut in 2000 and, at the same time, initiated Toyota President and master driver Akio Toyoda into the exhilaration of performance driving.

South Africa received all IS models besides the SportCross station wagon body shape, with pricing for the current range starting from R841 300. The F Sport is the top-of-the-range performance version.

Confirmed for SA: Lexus' all-new NX luxury compact SUV to arrive locally in 2022

Take a cruise down memory lane with the evolution of all the IS models through all its generations:

2001 Lexus IS

2001 Lexus IS
2001 Lexus IS

The first model was announced in 1999 and debuted for sale in 2000 for the 2001 year model. Its front-engine, rear-wheel-drive-layout housed a naturally-aspirated version of the MK4 Toyota Supra's 2JZ-GTE engine.

It was the brainchild of chief engineer Nobuaki Katayama, creator of the iconic AE86. The model was also known for its clear acrylic rear lights and could well be credited for its use in many later Toyota models.

2006 Lexus IS 250

2006 Lexus IS 250
2006 Lexus IS 250

As the years progressed, the IS got better, and the 2006 model year received numerous upgrades, including keyless ignition, electroluminescence display lighting and a sportier suspension setup.

The chief engineer of the second-generation IS was rally driver Suguya Fukusato. Forbes magazine reported it was one of the top luxury cars sold, as sales for this particular model increased by 332% in the United States.

2013 Lexus IS

2013 Lexus IS
2013 Lexus IS

Even more improvements were to follow with the third generation. Lexus' high-performance F editions featured a 5.0-litre in a compact sedan.

In addition to the performance, it also featured a new body colour - Ultrasonic Blue Mica.

2021 Lexus IS 300h

Lexus IS300h
2021 Lexus IS300h

For the first time, the IS will only be available a hybrid as Lexus exerts its influence and aims to make the hybrid-electric market its own. Local customers can choose between three grades - EX, SE and F Sport - with pricing starting from R841 300.

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