25 June 2021

Lexus IS300 2021 Car Review

Lexus has focused on driving dynamics and driving performance for the 2021 Lexus IS range, with the designers reworking the overall profile of their cars to create a sexier sports sedan set back on broad haunches with wider tyres.

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Lexus IS300 2021
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Lexus IS300 2021
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Lexus IS300 2021
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Lexus IS300 2021
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Lexus IS300 2021
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Lexus IS300 2021

The new look may be designed to target those buyers who would previously only have considered a German car – but is the new IS300 range enough to tempt those towards some Japanese craftsmanship?

Lexus has quite the range for the IS300, including three hybrid options. The pricing is as follows:

  • IS300 2.0L Petrol Turbo sedan 8AT from $70,900 (+ORC)
  • IS300 2.0L Petrol Turbo sedan F Sport 8AT from $80,500(+ORC)
  • IS300 2.0L Petrol Turbo sedan Limited 8AT from $83,000(+ORC)
  • IS300h 2.5L Hybrid-electric sedan ECVT from $76,200(+ORC)
  • IS300h 2.5L Hybrid-electric sedan F Sport ECVT from $85,800(+ORC)
  • IS300h 2.5L Hybrid-electric sedan Limited ECVT from $88,300 (+ORC)

Aggressive new look

The new IS300 range takes the shape of a classic coupe with its sloping rear pillars. A long bonnet works its way down into the large newly designed spindle grille, which features a three-dimensional polyhedral structure.

The rear of the sedan has a light bar that runs across the back, giving it a modern look. 2021 also brings larger wheels to the range – they’re up an inch on all variants. The Limited model we tested featured gorgeous 19-inch alloys, which really adds to the aggressive and sporty new look.

Upgraded interior

The interior of the new IS300 feels a lot more modern than its predecessor, and for the first time includes an electric park brake. There’s also a revised 10.3-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto™ included as standard.

The Limited model also features a sublime Mark Levinson Premium Audio 17-speaker with a 1500W amplifier and, for added luxury and privacy, there’s also a rear window power-operated sunshade.

Luxurious touches are dotted throughout the interior, with soft (heated and cooled) leather electric seats. When you shut the car down, the steering wheel contorts itself out of the way and the driver’s seat shuffles back automatically to make entering and exiting the car an absolute breeze.

The lack of wireless phone charging is a shame, especially considering other luxury marques have started making them standard in their vehicles. There are two USB ports and an auxiliary port in the centre console to plug in your devices instead.

While there’s a reasonably sized boot with 480 litres, the entrance to it is rather small, making it difficult if you were to stow bulkier items.

Lexus’s focus on quality control is felt in the new IS300, with no rattles or squeaks in the cabin. Everything feels solid and of a high quality.

Safety Update

There have been quite a few new safety features that have been added to the Lexus Safety System+ package. These include: Lane Tracing Assist, Road Sign Assist, Intersection Turn Assist, Emergency Steering Assist, All Speed Radar Cruise Control, and the Pre-Collision System now has bicycle detection.

Parking Support Brake with Rear Cross Traffic Auto Brake has been added across the range with Blind Spot Monitor now available on entry variants and a Panoramic View Monitor on the Limited grade we reviewed.

The Lexus IS300 received a five-star ANCAP rating in 2016.

Rear power

The IS300 Limited features a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, delivering 180kW of power and 350Nm of torque.

The power is divvied through the rear wheels - which is an oddity these days. In fact, the last RWD vehicle we reviewed was the Kia Stinger some time ago. You really can feel a distinct change in the driving dynamics in a rear wheel driven saloon, especially when the majority of vehicles we test are FWD runabouts or large AWD SUVs. It’s great fun being behind the wheel of the IS300.

Despite the car’s looks and low profile tyres, the ride is a comfortable affair. It’s reasonably quick but not rapid off the line – hitting 100km/h from zero in just under seven seconds. In Sport mode, the ride sharpens up and gear changes significantly reduce for a more exhilarating driving experience.

The IS300 2.0L Petrol Turbo sedan variants have a fuel efficiency rating of 8.2L/100km and a CO2 rating of 191g/km.


The IS300 Limited is a wonderfully comfortable saloon which is a welcomed addition to the road that’s otherwise a sea of different SUVs. It offers a similar thrill to some of its German rivals while boasting the quality and reliability that we’ve come to expect from Japanese manufacturers.

The sedan is also starting to shed some of those layers that have haunted it from the past, like the foot handbrake that was previously used in the IS300. You’ll still find unique touches like the analogue clock on the dash, but we’d perhaps have liked to see the traditional instrument cluster updating to a digital one.

All in all, the Lexus IS300 executes a compelling package that offers decent competition to the likes of the BMW 320i or Audi A4, and with its new features and looks, it’s bound to draw increased attention in 2021.

At a glance


Lexus IS300


2.0-litre turbo


From $79,900 +ORC ($83,000 +ORC as tested)

ANCAP safety rating

5 Star (2016)

Power and Torque

180kW, 350Nm


Eight-speed auto

Fuel economy/CO2

8.2L/100km, 191g/km

Towing capacity

Not rated


2WD (Rear)

Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

480 litres 

Safety systems

  • Pre-Collision System
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking (Vehicle, Pedestrian Daytime and Night-time, Bicyclist daytime detection)
  • Intersection Turn Assist (Vehicles and Pedestrians)
  • Emergency Steering Assist (Vehicle, Pedestrian and Bicyclist Daytime Detection)
  • Lane Tracing Assist
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • All-speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Indicator Linked Control (only at approximately 80km/h or over)
  • Road Sign Assist

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