Exterior Design ****
The Lexus IS reminds me of the Egyptian goddess Isis. More specifically, my mind casts back to the tale of Nephthys, a less immediately pronounceable Egyptian deity who was sexually frustrated with her husband Set. To seduce Set, Nephthys disguised herself as Isis. The plan didn t really pan out; Set was gay. Still, it kinda worked: Nephthys tricked Isis s husband Osiris into bed, begetting Anubis. In the same sense, the IS 350 is a sharp-looking car that s somehow not the real thing, but still manages to presage an Anubisian design aesthetic. Or something like that.
To quote my redneck neighbor, Yes sir, that dog will HUNT. The 3.5-liter V6 nestled in the baby Lexus Bangled snout may sound like a slightly more refined Pontiac Grand Am engine, but the Japanese mill churns out a class-leading 306hp and an equally bonkers 277 ft.-lbs. of twist. A brutality of thrust lingers underfoot, even without dipping into kickdown. It s a full second faster to everything than Bimmer s none-too-slow 330i.
A bit of a tough call this one. The IS 350 s brakes are ferocious, but you have to constantly modulate braking pressure to achieve consistent retardation. If not, well, I wouldn t be surprised to see an aggressive IS 350 driver sue Toyota for detaching his retinas.
Another potentially controversial decision. On one hand, the IS 350 s rock-hard ride gives the sports sedan the control it needs to avoid proving ISaac Newton s insistence that two objects trying to occupy the same space at the same time leads directly to a high-priced body shop. On the other hand, wafters need not apply, and there's something distinctly anti-Lexian about that.
At eight or nine tenths, the IS 350 scoots around corners with confidence and brio. At ten tenths, everything goes pear-shaped: understeer, oversteer, lane hop, you name it. If you're prepared to switch off the IS 350 s electronic intervention — which is programmed to keep you well away from tententhsland — well, you re a braver driver than I, Gunga Hakkinen. In short, the IS 350 is a fast car, but not a driver s car (like you-know-who).
The IS 350 s six-speed wants to change up faster than a lottery winner shopping for new digs. As there s so much torque in da house, that s not a bad thing in and of itself. But the autobox hyperkineticism prevents loping, which, again, is what some of us expect from a Lexus, at least occasionally.
Fourteen speakers, 10-channel amp, loads of juice; man, this the joint is jumpin . The last star is withheld for the tiny, cheesing-feeling scan buttons, a CD loading system that requires a post-build instructional sticker and the lack of MP3itude.
The IS 350 gets the full astral whack for the wikkid red lights, which glow inside the tacho when approaching the redline.
Plenty of space, but we re taking away a star cause the lid should glide open, not just sit there after a dull thud.
[by Robert Farago]
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Lexus IS 350, Part 1 [internal]