Lexus unveiled at the Paris Auto Show the revised 2009 IS line-up that includes many small additions that add up to significant improvements in the car. The version shown in Paris is obviously the European model, but it is likely the same revisions will also make it to North America.

2009 Lexus IS
- image 267424

The updated IS model range features a revised front grille and bumper design. Also new power folding door mirrors now feature integral LED side turn indicators. There are new 17” and 18” alloy wheel designs. The new IS range is available in ten body colors including two new colors: Amber Mica and Truffle Mica.

2009 Lexus IS
- image 267412

On the technical side, the engine undercover has been redesigned to optimise airflow under the vehicle floor. The new design increases negative pressure under the car and generates more downforce. Revisions to the transmission shift pattern have yielded a CO2 emission cut by 8 to 3 percent depending on model.

Press release after the jump.

Press release

Building on the award-winning styling, comfort, refinement and class–leading equipment levels of Lexus’ dynamic sports sedan, the refreshed IS model range incorporates comprehensive revisions in design, driving dynamics and safety.

Refreshed interior and exterior styling represents a further evolution of Lexus’ unique L-finesse design rationale. Modifications to suspension, steering, transmissions and paddle shift technology offer notable improvements to driving dynamics. The addition of Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM), as standard across the model range, reinforces Lexus’ commitment to all aspects of driving pleasure and occupant safety, while updated equipment further enhances passenger comfort and convenience within the luxurious interior.

2009 Lexus IS
- image 267416

Exterior design

Enhancing a distinctive frontal identity incorporating the unique Lexus styling cue of aggressive, twin-barrel headlamp clusters positioned on a higher plane than the grille, the updated IS model range features a revised front grille and bumper design. Generating a more strongly accentuated bonnet character line, the front grille and attendant front bumper section has been extended by 10mm, focusing the eye at the very apex of the vehicle to strengthen the impression of speed and agility.

Within a front overhang increased to 820mm, bringing the new IS’s overall length to 4,585mm, the bottom of the front grille has also been lowered, whilst the lower bumper is enhanced by a wider, restyled air intake punctuated at either end by integral foglamps. The front grille itself features revisions to the arrowhead motif design of the surround, a key L-finesse styling element, the width of each vertical bar and the number of vertical bars has been changed to promote a more powerful image.

2009 Lexus IS
- image 267418

To the side, new, enlarged power folding door mirrors -coupled with the door lock mechanism for automatic storage and extension when doors are locked or unlocked- now feature integral LED side turn indicators. New dual-speed, opening/closing windows incorporate a custom ECU (Electronic Control Unit) built into the window motor which automatically slows the window operating speed at the beginning and end of both the opening and closing sequence, reducing noise and vibration as well as reinforcing a sense of luxury.

The IS rear lamp inner structure and lighting method have been revised, and the graphics of the rear combination lights have been changed by enlarging the tail lamp display area as much as possible to highlight the new design. IS 250 models also feature a redesigned rear bumper and diffuser panel, which creates a visual “blackout” of the lower section, giving the perception of a wider and more vertically compact rear elevation to emphasise the new sedan’s broad, agile stance.

Incorporating new 17” and 18” alloy wheel designs, the new IS range is available in ten body colours including two new colours: Amber Mica and Truffle Mica.

Interior Design and Equipment

Influenced throughout by the L-finesse design rationale and combining luxury finishes with unprecedented build quality, the stunning interior of the IS model range has undergone a number of changes reflecting the attention to detail which hallmarks the Lexus brand.

2009 Lexus IS
- image 267412

With one instrument panel upper colour and new grey and brown wood inserts added to the range, the three-colour interior design scheme has been gracefully refreshed. Standard IS range seats now feature “Sport Fabric”, whilst two types of leather seats are also available; soft leather with a smooth finish (incorporating power adjustment and lumbar support), and semi-aniline leather with a perforated finish (incorporating ventilation). The outer rear seats now benefit from retractable headrests.

Within a revised, visually lowered centre console, switches have been redesigned for enhanced clarity, consistency, tactility and usability. A new, simplified layout features new paint colour and metal plated framing, revised switch shapes, additional night time illumination and new logos.

A Card Key, keyless entry system is now available for the IS model range. Owners may lock or unlock the doors, start or stop the engine and open the boot without removing the Card Key from a pocket or wallet. In addition, a memory recall programme allows the card to store the driver’s preferred seat, steering wheel and door mirror positions.

2009 Lexus IS
- image 267420


With sleek, flowing bodywork boasting exceptionally narrow panel gaps and minimal protrusions, generating a drag coefficient of just 0.27, the Lexus IS is one of the most aerodynamically efficient cars in its segment. Key underfloor revisions further enhance the IS’s aerodynamic performance.

The engine undercover has been redesigned to optimise airflow under the vehicle floor. The speed of airflow under the new, 2-stage Venturi structure is accelerated by a newly positioned air pocket, thus increasing negative pressure and generating more downforce. The shape of the rear floor undercover has also been revised. New wing fin protrusions are used to narrow the air flow channels and accelerate the flow rate, once again increasing negative pressure and subsequent downforce. In combination, these two new underfloor elements enhance the IS’s aerodynamic performance and handling stability, whilst further reducing NVH intrusion.

Driving Dynamics

The updated IS benefits from further suspension, steering and brake control enhancements.

2009 Lexus IS
- image 267421

Enhancements to the IS 250 automatic transmission include the addition of paddle shift control when the D mode has been selected, allowing the driver to shift up or down using the steering wheel mounted paddle levers. Manual downshift response time has been reduced to enhance sports driving pleasure. If the vehicle is stopped or the accelerator depressed for more than a certain length of time, the system will automatically switch back to normal D position operation. Likewise if the up-shift paddle is operated for one second or more, the system will also revert to normal D position operation.

The 6-speed manual transmission benefits from enhanced clutch and gear shift feel. Each component of the transmission has been re-evaluated to improve the gear change by reducing the effort needed to operate the gear lever, reducing play in its operation and smoothing the operation action.

By revising the final drive ratio of the IS 220d Sport version from 3.2 to 2.9, CO2 emissions have been reduced by over 8%, from 195 g/km to 179 g/km. CO2 emissions for the IS 220d with the standard differential gear ratio drop by more than 3% from 168 g/km to 163 g/km.


VDIM, Lexus’ unique Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management system, is now fitted as standard across the range. VDIM provides integrated control of the ABS (Anti-lock Brake System), Brake Assist, TRC (Traction Control), VSC (Vehicle Stability Control), hill-start assist control (when equipped with automatic transmission), and EPS (Electric Power Steering) systems. Whereas conventional active safety systems only react when the limit of the vehicle’s performance envelope has been reached, VDIM activates control before that limit is realised. As a result, the limits of the vehicle’s performance threshold are expanded, whilst offering smoother vehicle behaviour at this threshold through less obtrusive intervention and, hence, a more pleasurable drive.

2009 Lexus IS
- image 267414

A revised optional Pre-Crash Safety system supports the pre-crash seatbelt and pre-crash brake assist functions with pre-crash brake technology. In the event that a collision is determined unavoidable, the pre-crash brake automatically initiates deceleration braking at 5.0m/s2 (over 0.51G) to reduce vehicle speed and restrain driver and passengers. A warning sound and display alarm activates 0.8 sec before activation of automatic braking, and the brake lights illuminate when the system is activated. Pre-crash brake may be manually disengaged, but the pre-crash seatbelts, which now also activate when the vehicle skids as well as during emergency braking, remain activated.

Alina Moore
Alina Moore
Alina Joined the team in the early 2000s as one of the outlets very first experts, and she’s been with ever since. Over the years, she’s served various roles, but today she’s is relied on heavily to verify automotive facts, assist with formatting, and discover new and engaging topics.  Read full bio
About the author
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: