Get ready for the ultimate IS sport sedan.
Earlier this month we discovered that the Lexus IS was not being discontinued like its big brother, the Lexus GS. Instead, it'll be heavily updated for 2021 but its overall bones will remain. Best of all, it's expected to receive the also soon to be discontinued naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8. That information came to us from a Japanese language source but now it's being reconfirmed by AllCarNews on Instagram.
But there's more: while the V8-powered IS appears to be a done deal, it won't be called the IS F as many had hoped. Lexus has decided to go with the name IS 500 despite the car coming equipped with the F-Sport appearance package. And yes, this will very likely be the last application of this V8 before it's permanently retired. Our previous report on this subject also claimed the IS 500 will be for the North American market only. Sorry, Japan. This time America gets to have all of the fun.
Meanwhile, the rest of the 2021 Lexus IS lineup is set to receive a number of updates inside and out in order to keep it fresh for another few years. At that point, it's possible but still too early to confirm that it might switch to a new rear-wheel-drive platform Mazda is co-developing with Toyota which could also underpin the next-generation Mazda 6 sedan.
For 2021, the IS engine lineup will remain the same with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and a pair of 3.5-liter V6 engines with either 260 hp and 236 lb-ft, or 311 hp and 277 lb-ft. But the real treat will be, of course, the NA V8, which makes 472 hp in the RC-F. All engines, however, will be paired to an 8-speed automatic gearbox with either RWD or AWD. We expect the IS 500 to be RWD only.
Lexus was reportedly originally thinking of giving this top dog IS a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 with around 416 hp but someone in the decision-making boardroom probably reminded everyone that none of the brand's main rivals, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes, offer NA V8s anymore in their respective high-performance luxury sedans. Everything has gone turbocharged. This is what will make the 2021 Lexus IS 500 a legend.
So when will the car be revealed? Nothing is set in stone yet but rumor has it a debut has been tentatively set for later summer or early fall.