The 2014 Lexus IS has quite a lot of gadget-related stories to tell, but allow us to be superficial and confess that it's the aural part of the experience that conquered us.
The optional Mark Levinson audio system may bring 835 Watts of power through fifteen speakers, but it's the way in which the sound is delivered that delights.
The experience is deeply multi-dimensional one - the system just spreads the sound waves throughout the cabin in a way that seems to defy physics, perfectly surrounding you with the tunes. The system can even adjust the volume so that you get to perfectly hear the quieter parts of a song.
Not even this area of the car has been left outside Lexus' green philosophy, with the system promising to deliver double the volume for the same power consumption. Feel free to pump it up then.
And there's a second part to this ear-tingling experience we found in the Lexus IS300h. We're talking about the Active Sound Control (ACS). To put it shortly, there's a dedicated speaker that simulates a sporty engine sound.
Left on its own, the Atkinson cycle 2.5-liter engine is barely audible aside from when being pushed very, very hard. However, there's a little volume control button on the left of the dash, which allows you to control the aforementioned ACS.
At first, the purists inside of us said "No" and muted the thing, but we had to admit that having it made things more pleasant. We never thought we'd say this, but we wish the Lexus GS450h F Sport also had the ACS.
The acceleration noise is nice, with the system also being able to simulate the sound of an engine working its way up through the artificial six gears of the car's E-CVT gearbox. By the way, this also works on the downshifts.
Sure, it has its glitches. There are scenarios in which the difference between the aural crescendo and the actual engine revs are pretty obvious. What's more, the speaker fails to perform a downshift misfire impersonation properly.
In the end, we'd rather have the option to use the ACS. We'll even go as far as saying that they should make full use of the concept - perhaps give us several tones to choose from.
Staying in the infotainment area, we noticed that Lexus' second-gen Remote Touch Interface just got a bit friendlier. There are a few subtle tweaks that make menu navigation seem more natural.
A Lexus is probably the last car in the world you'd expect to get electrocuted by, but it seems that this is exactly what the Lexus IS is trying to do. The actual sensation is, of course, not there, as we're talking about the two electrostatic switches on the center console that control the climate. They're a very nice toy to have.Continue reading