2014 Lexus IS first drive review Page 2

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Sport S+ Could Be A Bit More "Plus"

While the suspension steps up its game in Sport S+ mode, and the throttle and steering adopt non-linear characteristics to sharpen responses, there's still a bit to be desired in the most sporting mode of the 2014 IS F Sport.

The problem lies in its dynamic stability and traction control parameters. While the frustrating power-cut of a decade ago doesn't often raise its head when slip angles or tire spin rises above its tolerance, the system still biases the car's handling to a steady-state understeer, preventing the sort of rotation we like to see in a good sports sedan, particular on trailbraking and turn-in.

The result is a car that's very stable even when driven hard, but, ultimately, a bit limiting--and certainly less fun than it could be.

But What About The Street?

All of this track testing is fun, but let's be realistic: How many IS drivers will ever find themselves on a racing circuit? And of those, how often? Not many, and infrequently, to be sure.

That's the case with most street cars, and on the open road, the IS really comes into its element.

Like any other modern luxury sport sedan, the IS is capable of speeds and handling that are simply beyond the limits of sanity on public roads. It's faster than you'll ever need to go.

It's also very comfortable, fairly quiet, and ergonomically well laid-out. Rear seat room isn't abundant, but that's the nature of this class. Seat comfort is very good, even for larger drivers. There's plenty of leg room in the front seats, and head, hip, and shoulder clearance are all good, too.

The leg room statement does have one qualifier, however. In AWD models, the center tunnel is enlarged to house the transfer case and other oily bits that give the front wheels their propulsion.

The result is a rather significant intrusion into the driver's footwell area--a fact not only noticed, but felt constantly during the drive for your 6' 2", size-13-foot reviewer. It's perhaps not a dealbreaker, but it's certainly awkward, and not suited to the rest of the IS's very good level of interior packaging.

Perhaps best of all is the redesigned interior, especially the dash.

While the rubbery, matte-finish dash cap remains, a new texture makes it a notch more elegant. The tiered dash design looks like a nod to higher-end cars, and the overall fit and finish is impressive. The new LFA-inspired instrument cluster in F Sport models is both trick and informative.

2014 Lexus IS 250

2014 Lexus IS 250

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The center stack display screen is nested in one of the dashboard's tiers, and is one of the best-shaded layouts we've come across--at no point in the drive did we get glare or wash-out due to bright sunlight across the screen's face.

A few areas of either cost-cutting or missed opportunities do remain: plasticky, hollow-seeming buttons on the steering wheel and center stack contrast sharply with the otherwise quality feel of the interior; the cupholder layout in the center armrest area is a bit awkward to reach for front-seat passengers; and the aforementioned issues with foot/leg room in AWD models.

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