Thus far, the my.IS Front Page's exhaustively detailed stories on the notable changes to the 2011 Lexus IS, IS C and IS F models have included initial
stories on the United States, followed by news from Japan
. Now it's Europe's turn to receive our attention. As we did with our prior Japan story, we'll focus strictly on the changes that affect just European-market versions of the Lexus IS family, and not repeat ourselves with what has already been said on our previous stories.
IS 250 sedan
It's safe to say that each major Lexus market has seen one notable new powertrain change or variant. In the United States and Canada, it's the new IS 350 AWD (all-wheel-drive) sedan model. In Japan, it's the addition of the IS 350C convertible to the lineup. Europe sees two
such significant changes. The first is the fact that manual transmission IS 250 models will no longer be available anywhere in the Old Continent. On the surface, this might appear to be a stunning and shocking development from the last major holdout market for the traditional three-pedal manual transmission, yet those who have been paying close attention to the 2nd-generation gasoline-powered Lexus IS 250 in Europe are hardly surprised by this turn of events, for the number of individual countries offering an IS 250 Manual has been steadily dwindling over the years. Great Britain and Switzerland were among the last remaining holdouts for 2010, with France, Italy, Germany and Spain, among others, having at different points stopped offering an IS 250 Manual variant. A succinct "the 2011 IS 250 is available with 6-speed automatic transmission only" sentence, plus the exclusive mention of an automatic transmission in the IS 250 specification charts are the only information posted in the PDF document in the registered journalists-only Lexus Europe Media Site. The new, more broadly visible Lexus Great Britain Media Site is just a tad more expansive in its Lexus Unveils Revised IS Range
Press Release, stating that, "for the 2011 model year the IS 250 becomes an automatic-only model, with revisions to the powertrain that ensure compliance with Euro 5 emissions standards." This implies that Lexus decided that, with ever-dwindling IS 250 Manual sales in Europe and faced with the prospect of expensive and time-consuming recertification for 2011 Euro 5 emissions compliance, it simply made more sense to discontinue the gasoline-powered manual. Also, the all-important to Europe CO2 emissions for the IS 250 Manual were 17 grams per kilometer higher than for its Automatic counterpart to begin with. Thus, we now have a "history repeating" situation where a manual transmission-variant of a Lexus IS model becomes a North America-only exclusive, as was the case with the 1st-generation IS 300 Manual sedan.
Could retuning for Euro 5 emissions compliance also somehow be a factor in the unexplained fuel economy gains for 2011 Lexus IS V6 models in the U.S.? Possibly. Lexus Great Britain states that "combined cycle fuel consumption improves from 31.7 to 33.6 mpg" along with lower CO2 emissions with no penalty in performance. Before you look at those eye-popping numbers (30 mpg highway is the highest IS 250 automatic sedan number on the U.S. EPA cycle), bear in mind that those are Imperial
gallons, with 1 U.S. gallon equalling 0.8 imperial gallon. Thus, that 33.6 mpg imperial works out to almost 28 U.S. mpg, which is higher than the US. EPA 24 mpg combined city/highway figure, but Lord knows how the U.S. and U.K. fuel economy cycles compare. Yet, a glance at the Lexus Europe Media Site contains a couple of eye-opening revelations absent from its British counterpart. For one, there's word of "a lowering of the final drive gear ratio from 3.9 to 3.7 (that) has reduced... average fuel consumption by 0.7 l to 8.4 l/100 km". The U.S. 2011 Lexus IS 250/IS 350 Product Information PDF document
reminds us that the IS 250 RWD Automatic sedan still uses the same 3.909 final drive gear ratio it's used since its 2006 introduction, while the IS 250 Manual uses a 3.727 final drive gear ratio, again since 2006. Europe has thus applied the manual's higher (numerically lower) rear axle ratio to their 2011 European IS 250 RWD Automatics. A numerically lower axle ratio helps with fuel economy and potentially allows for a higher top speed (although this remains unchanged at 225 km/h, or almost 140 mph), but certainly has an adverse effect on acceleration, as the official 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) time of 8.5 seconds attests. Granted, it is customary to knock off a tenth of a second or so when converting to 0-60 mph, but that's still notably off the U.S. claim of 7.9 seconds for the U.S. 2011 IS 250 RWD Automatic. So, was the Lexus Great Britain Press Release lying when they claimed "no penalty in performance"? Depends on how picky you are about your tenths of a second. The 2010 Lexus IS Specifications page of the Lexus Europe website
claims a 0-62 km/h acceleration time for the '10 Euro-spec IS 250 RWD Automatic of 8.4 seconds, so the numerically lower axle ratio adds a scant tenth of a second. As to the 0.7 liters per 100 kilometers improvement in fuel consumption, it works out to a just over 2 mpg improvement. This is better than the equal city mileage and 1 mpg highway mileage improvement for 2011 in the U.S., but it probably comes down to divergent American and European priorities, with the former choosing some improvement in both acceleration and fuel economy versus Europe's fuel economy and lower CO2 numbers über alles
attitudes, even it it means giving up a little off-the-line oomph.
Ah, yes, those pesky CO2 emissions numbers that in some countries are vital factors in determining the taxation rate a vehicle will be subject to. The 2011 IS 250 RWD Automatic sedan reports a decrease in CO2 emissions from 2010's 214 grams per kilometer (in continental Europe) or 209 g/km (in Great Britain) to 194 g/km for all of Europe. In practical terms in Great Britain, this reduces the Benefit in Kind company car tax rate from 30% down to 27%.
Another curious and surprising passage from the Lexus Europe Media Site Press Release states that "the IS 250's... automatic transmission...has been improved through the addition of Road Condition Response Control. The system monitors throttle opening and vehicle speed to establish the presence of an incline or decline. On inclines the system prevents unnecessary upshifts to ensure adequate drive power is available. On declines, the system automatically downshifts to offer adequate engine braking." Could this
recalibration of the transmision, unmentioned by Lexus USA, be the cause of the still-unexplained fuel economy improvements?
Externally, Lexus Europe describes the tailights' new clear turn signal and back-up light lens sections as being "pink smoked" (!) and lists 3 new exterior colours: Ultrasonic Blue Mica, Midnight Blue and Starlight Black. It is unclear whether Ultrasonic Blue will be an F Sport-only colour as in the U.S. and Japan, or if it'll be available on all IS sedans in Europe. As to Midnight Blue and Starlight Black, we're betting that those are European names for Deep Sea Mica (colour code 8V3) and Stargazer Black (colour code 217), respectively. The latter, we should remind you, is offered on IS sedans in Japan as well, but in the U.S. is available only in the RX line.
Lexus Europe also revealed some new interior details, such as Optitron meter surface glass transmittance that has been improved from 30% to 50%, a change in the door courtesy lamp lens colour from red to white and the addition of a white LED built into the stainless steel front door scuff plate to enhance visual appeal and aid entry and exit. The European market follows Japan's practice of offering a quartet of audio options: a standard 8-speaker sound system, the standard-in-North America 13-speaker Premium Audio system, an upgraded version of the latter incorporating a 7” Thin Film Transistor screen and the ne plus ultra
14-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound System.
Discussion of the F Sport grade also adds some new bits of information. Europe will offer it in "a choice of seven IS F exterior colours, including Ultrasonic Blue Mica". (Yes, we know that the IS F in the United States and Japan is only offered in six
exterior colours. All will be explained in the IS F section of this article). The F Sport grade's bespoke metallic trim accents on the center console and door switch plates are described by Lexus Europe as Steel Blue, seemingly an apt description judging from the photos we've seen. As with the U.S., Europe only offers leather-and-microfiber seating on their F Sport grade. Their account of the F Sport suspension upgrades is barely more informative than the U.S.'s but includes this passage: "the multi-link rear suspension system shares numerous IS F components to enhance suspension bush and stabiliser bar rigidity... in conjunction with these suspension upgrades, the enhanced F Sport package incorporates ECU control constant changes to the vehicle-speed sensing Electric Power Steering (EPS), to further improve steering feel and stability". We also learn that the exclusive F Sport 18” alloys are 2.6 kg (5.75 lbs) lighter per unit. Welcome news, to be sure, but lighter than which wheels? The not-for-North America 16" wheels? Our standard 17-inchers? Or the alternate, non-F Sport 18" 5-spoke wheels?
The Lexus Great Britain Press Release adds that the SE-I version of the IS sedans (which add cruise control, power seats and front & rear parking sensors to the base, 17'' wheel-equipped SE model) will, in 2011, also add rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming electrochromic rear view mirror and leather upholstery with heated front seats to their standard equipment list.
IS 200d and IS 220d sedans
No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That heading is not a typo. And the picture at the top of our story is not photoshop gone haywire. The other
bit of powertrain news for 2011 is the addition of an IS 200d to the IS sedan line in Europe. We must warn you, though, that Lexus is playing BMW and Mercedes (or Lexus hybrid)-like games with its model names. Contrary to what you'd expect, Lexus did not
downsize its Polish-built diesel to create its fourth European-market powerplant. Rather, as a super-fuel economy option, it has brought the lower-output version of its 2.2-liter 4-cylinder diesel that had already appeared in European-market Toyota Avensis (the basis for the Lexus HS), Verso (a mini-minivan) and RAV4 models into the Lexus IS and given it a lower-numbered model name to distinguish it from the higher-powered IS 220d. The following paragraphs will explain this more fully.
The new-for-2011 IS 200d uses the lower-powered version of the 2.2-liter, 4-cylinder AD diesel family that bears the 2AD-FT
V moniker. It produces 110 kW / 150 DIN hp / 148 SAE hp and a maximum torque figure of 340 Nm / 250 lb/ft. As with the IS 220d, it is available only
in conjunction with the RA63 6-speed manual transmission (a variant of the RA62 manual used on the IS 250, answering a long-standing my.IS question
). 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration is rated at 10.2 seconds, with a top speed of 205 km/h (127 mph), and fuel consumption on the European mixed city/highway cycle is 5.1 liters per 100 kilometers, which equals 55.4 UK MPG and 46 US MPG. CO2 emissions for the IS 200d are only 134 g/km.
Meanwhile, the higher-powered IS 220d's 2AD-FH
V engine produces 130 kW / 177 DIN hp / 174 SAE hp and a maximum torque figure of 400 Nm / 295 lb/ft. 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) acceleration takes 8.9 seconds, with a top speed of 220 km/h (136 mph), and fuel consumption on the European mixed city/highway cycle is rated at 5.5 l/100 km, which equals 51.3 UK MPG and 42.7 US MPG. This is a tenth of a liter less in 100 km than the 2010 IS 220d (call it a 1 mpg improvement in US and UK terms versus 2010). CO2 emissions of 144 g/km are 4 g/km less than for the 2010 IS 220d.
Mechanical enhancements for both diesels for 2011 include a reshaped combustion chamber and the adoption of next-generation piezo injectors that allow for an increase in common rail injection pressure from 180 to 200MPa. The enhancement in injector nozzle speed reduces fuel injection time and improves nozzle stability, while the increase in injection pressure allows for a reduction in fuel injector nozzle diameter while maintaining the same injection period. This improves fuel atomisation and accelerates combustion to enhance fuel efficiency. The reduction in nozzle diameter combined with the optimisation of the combustion chamber shape reduces emissions and fuel consumption, while improving low speed engine torque by 5.5%. Enhancements to the exhaust systems of both engines have also been implemented to further reduce emissions. Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) cooler efficiency has also been improved.
Other than the obvious power output and fuel economy variations, differences between the IS 200d and IS 220d engines include the use of an oil cooled turbocharger with grooves and excellent intake air acoustics and a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) on the IS 200d versus a water-cooled turbocharger and a Diesel Particulate NOx Reduction (DPNR) system on the IS 220d.
Individual European markets will be allowed to choose whether to offer one or both diesel variants, but Great Britain's tax laws have tilted the balance in the less-powerful IS 200d's favor, with the IS 220d disappearing from there for 2011. To be precise, IS 200d owners will enjoy a lower annual road tax charge – Band E rather than F for Vehicle Excise Duty. For company car tax payers there is a further bonus in the reduction of the Benefit-in-Kind tax rating from 21% to 18% for the new model. On the other hand, Germany, for one, is expected to offer both IS 200d and IS 220d variants.
Other changes for 2011 for Lexus IS diesel sedans are the same as those outlined in the IS 250 section above, except that F Sport IS diesel sedans will not
get the suspension enhancements of their gasoline-powered brother.
IS 250C convertible
The Lexus Europe Media Site's comment that "the air-fuel ratio control of the IS 250C’s V6 exhaust system has been optimised to comply with Euro 5 emission regulation standards. As a result, average fuel economy has fallen by 0.1 liter to 9.2 liters per 100 km" provides yet another clue to the precise cause for the fuel economy improvements. Unlike Euro IS V6 sedans, the convertible maintains its 2010 0-100 kph / 0-62 mph time (of 9 seconds) for 2011. Again, a fuel economy improvement of 0.1 l/100km is roughly equal to a 1 MPG gain, and CO2 emissions have been reduced by 6 grams per kilometer to 213 g/km.
We're also pleased to learn that, with the addition of an all window open/close switch, a long-standing pet peeve of this author dating back to the Lexus IS C Press Preview
has finally been addressed.
As with European Lexus IS sedans, Ultrasonic Blue Mica, Midnight Blue and Starlight Black have been added to the exterior colour choices and, as in the U.S., Light Grey and Saddle Tan join the IS C interior colour palette.
While the Lexus Great Britain Media Site doesn't even mention the IS F (presumably, it'll be discussed in a later separate press release), the Lexus Europe Media Site does offer us some unique bits of information. For one, the seventh IS F exterior colour mentioned earlier in the IS 250 sedan section's F Sport paragraph is Starlight Black (again, the RX-only Stargazer Black in the United States). Thus IS F-Sport and IS F V8 sedans in Europe will offer two
shades of black, with Obsidian (referred to simply as Black on the Lexus Europe site and known as Velvet Black in Great Britain) coexisting with the new Starlight Black.
Inside, the IS F benefits from new dark sliver fibre inserts, and a change in the contrasting stitching for the leather upholstery from white to blue. A revised front seat design offers improved driver support, and a new steering wheel improves grip and feel. A new driver’s instrument design repositions the tachometer, speedometer and shift indicator within the binnacle for instant legibility and maximum clarity during high speed driving. The large, centrally positioned tachometer incorporates a rev indicator to help enhance gear shift operation characteristics. The rev indicator illuminates in three steps –at 5000 rpm, at 5500 rpm and at 6200-6550 rpm,
depending on the gear step.
Great Britain Pricing
As in the United States, Lexus Great Britain released 2011 model pricing along with information on the new model changes. A claim that, again as in the U.S., "On-the-road prices remain unchanged" (read: base prices remain the same for 2010 and 2011) is fundamentally true. Some comments and exceptions are
in order, however. First off, shouldn't the less powerful diesel come with a price rollback besides the tax cuts? Second, the diesel-powered version of the top-of-the-line SE-L is seemingly no longer available. The IS 250 F Sport Automatic sedan registers a £785 (US$1219) increase for 2011. Also seeing a price increase is the IS 250C, with the base SE-I being £366 (US$569) pricier for 2011 and the SE-L version seeing an £406 (US$630) jump for the new model year. As to IS 250 SE Automatic sedan pricing of £25,620 for 2010 and £25,260 for 2011, that sounds more like dyslexia than an actual price cut.
For the terminally curious among you that want the full 2011 Lexus IS pricing story and current UK Pounds Sterling to dollar conversions, we refer you to the Lexus Great Britain Media Site's Lexus Unveils Revised IS Range
Press Release and an online currency converter