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2021 Lexus IS gets a performance-focused full body makeover with soft filter looks

Lexus gas completely redesigned the IS sedan for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

The Lexus IS has done more than be redesigned. It serves as the nexus of sport and performance, inspiring Lexus to not just build a new sedan, but also a race track to test it on.

Toyota Technical Center Shimoyama is a new test facility for the Japanese automaker. It is an asphalt track that tests even the most expert driver, allowing research and development teams to hone a vehicle's chassis and interaction with control surfaces. Toyota's chief engineer has been tasked with "elevating the vehicles to a new standard of performance and handling" with the ultimate goal of delivering "a new generation of Lexus vehicles that is more balanced, refined in control, and confident than ever before."

2021 Lexus IS The IS has a large grille, just like the ES before it.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota says that this is more than just a vision. It's an evolution that uses what has been learned by the company through the design of the F brand variants of their vehicles and applies it to the future to help push the envelope.

With its redesign, Lexus has taken the edge off the exterior of the IS like putting a soft filter on a photo, but still manages to beef it up. The model is longer, wider, and taller than it was before with a more athletic stance. The grille is large and in charge up front. Traditional models get a three-dimensional polyhedral structure while F Sport cars have block forms that make a mesh pattern and a grille-bottom air intake.

Slender headlamps flank the grille with a new L-shaped signature. Triple-beam LED headlights are available. Side mirrors are clearly influenced by the design of the Lexus LC.

At the back, the car's rear deck has been lowered for the new generation and a blade-style light bar extends across the entire rear of the model.

2021 Lexus IS The car has a bit smoother of an appearance than its predecessor.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Lexus will offer the car in five new exterior colors: Cloudburst Gray, Matador Red Mica, Infrared, Grecian Water, and Iridium. They join Ultra white, Eminent White Pearl, Atomic Silver, Caviar, and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 as paint options. Infrared and Ultrasonic Blue Mica 2.0 are only available on the F Sport version of the car.

The new, rear-wheel drive IS is more rigid than before and had a weight reduction for this generation. It features coil springs that are 20 percent lighter and A-arms that are made of forged aluminum instead of steel that are 18 percent lighter. The stabilizer bar is 17 percent lighter thanks to a materials change as well.

It rides on standard 18-inch wheels while F Sport grades get the buyer's choice between two different 19-inch varieties. All-wheel drive is available.

2021 Lexus IS The taillights now consist of a longitudinally stretched LED strip across the rear of the car.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

In addition to the unique wheels, F Sport models get a unique front bumper, rocker molding, cool air vintage with sound generator, unique exhaust and diffuser, carbon fiber rear spoiler, carbon fiber side mirror caps, and F Sport badging.

Lexus will sell the model in five variants: IS 300, IS 300 AWD, IS 350, IS 350 AWD, and IS 350 F Sport.

The base model IS 300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is rated to deliver 241 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The IS 300 AWD gets down the road thanks to a 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that delivers 236 pound-feet of torque. With all-wheel drive, the model drives 30 percent of its power to the front and 70 percent to the back under dry road conditions. Up to 50 precent of the car's power can go to the front wheels when conditions require it. The engine is mated to a six sped automatic.

IS 350, IS 350 AWD, and IS 350 F Sport variants have a 311-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine under the hood. It achieves 280 pound-feet of torque. The IS 350 and IS 350 F Sport have an eight-speed automatic transmission while the IS 350 AWD has a six-speed automatic.

2021 Lexus IS The car now rides on standard 18-inch wheels. Nineteen-inch are available.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Lexus has given the IS F Sport a Torsen limited slip differential. Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport+, and Custom drive modes are available depending on trim level.

The seats of the IS are covered in NuLuxe trimmed upholstery in the buyer's choice of Black, Glazed Caramel, or Roja Red. The driver has a 10-way power-adjustable seat while the passenger's is 8-way power-adjustable. Dual-zone climate control, push-button start, an 8.0-inch infotainment touch screen, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and Amazon Alexa.

The Lexus track pad remains.

Available features include a power moonroof, 10.3-inch infotainment touch screen and navigation. The car is also available with a Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound Audio System that includes 17 speakers and 1,800 watts of sound. That's two speakers more than the 2020 IS has and more than double the watts.

2021 Lexus IS The cabin of the IS is still wholly recognizable as being from Lexus DNA.Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Inside the cabin, F Sport modes get standard heated and ventilated sport seats (available in a new Circuit Red color). They feature two-way power-adjustable lumbar support and four-way headrest adjustment. F-Sport models also have a unique accelerator and brake pedal, and footrest as well as a console kneepad with contrast stitching and a Lexus card key.

Each new Lexus IS comes standard with Lexus Safety System+ 2.5, which includes a forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, bicyclist detection, adaptive cruise control (above 30 mph), lane departure alert, lane trace assist, intelligent high beams, road sign assist, blind spot monitor, and rear cross traffic alert.

The car's adaptive cruise control system, called All-Speed Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, includes a new feature. From Lexus:

"DRCC also includes a new feature that allows for smooth overtaking of slower vehicles. If traveling behind a vehicle traveling slower than the preset speed, once the driver engages the turn signal the system will provide an initial increase in acceleration in preparation for changing lanes; after changing lanes, the vehicle will continue acceleration until it reaches the original preset driving speed."

The 2021 Lexus IS will arrive at dealerships this autumn and will be available for sale in approximately 40 counties around the world.

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The new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is coming soon to a LEGO store near you.

Photo courtesy of LEGO

The Jeep Wrangler has fans the world over. For those fans whose extracurricular activities include LEGO building along with Jeeping, there's a new LEGO Technic model they'll want to take a look at. The LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon is the first LEGO model of a Jeep SUV.

Ask any Jeep Wrangler owner and they'll tell you that their vehicle is just a bigger version of this new LEGO set," said Mark Allen, Head of Jeep Design. "The design of the Jeep Wrangler allows them to take it apart, top off, doors off, reconfigure it, add new pieces from our Mopar team, and then put it back together again. This LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler should bring a new level of joy to our Jeep enthusiasts and help inspire future designers to the brand."

LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler Rubicon

Photo courtesy of LEGO

The 665-piece model features all the classic Jeep hallmarks - a performance 4x4 system, rugged tires, fold-down rear seats, and a seven-slot grille. It features a button operated front steering system and axle-articulation suspension. It has a yellow-and-black color scheme.

"The Jeep Wrangler is an icon in the off-road world" says Lars Thygesen, Designer, LEGO Technic. "The Rubicon has a lot of the iconic details loved by 4x4 fans the world over, so it was important to me to pack as many of the authentic, powerful features of the real vehicle into the LEGO Technic replica. I hope LEGO fans and vehicle lovers enjoy all aspects including the suspension, winch and open air design that we developed alongside the talented Jeep design team."

The LEGO Technic Jeep Wrangler is designed for Jeep and LEGO fans alike, aged 9 and above. It will be available from January 1st 2021 from LEGO.com, LEGO stores and other retailers globally, priced at [49.99€/49.99$/£44.99].

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Audi is only making the car for U.S. customers.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The 2021 Audi R8 Panther special edition is one of the rarer gifts you can get for your garage this holiday season. With a limited run of 30 coupes in the works, the R8 Panther edition models are the first available units in the R8 rear-wheel-drive model line and available only for U.S. customers.

If the name sounds familiar to you, that's because it should. The R8 Panther edition joins the 2019 RS 5 Panther edition, which was also a limited run and featured the same paint color and interior upholstery.

2021 Audi R8 Panther The hallmarks of the model include its black paint job and red-edged wheels.Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The unique 2021 R8 Panther comes covered in an Audi-exclusive Panther Black crystal effect paint job with carbon exterior mirror housings. Its badging has been coated in black. The model rides on 20-inch five-double-spoke dynamic design wheels that have been milled cut, finished in matte black with red trim, and wrapped in summer performance tires.

Your neighbors will hear you leaving the cul-de-sac thanks to the car's sport exhaust system, which amplifies the sound of the V10 engine. LED headlights and LED taillights, with dynamic turn signals will help their eyes follow your path on the way out as they peer out their windows.

The R8 Panther is powered by a naturally aspirated 5.2-liter V1 engine that produces 532 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque, and sprints from zero to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds. It has a top track speed of 201 mph.

The chassis of the R8 Panther edition has been specifically adapted for rear-wheel drive, including using solid rear axles as opposed to hollow, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, and an increase in rear negative camber.

2021 Audi R8 Panther

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The model has a full black leather interior with Crimson red stitching. Its racing shells seats are covered in red Nappa leather and have power height and manual fore/art seat adjustment. The car's gear selector and parcel shelf are covered in Alcantara, and the headliner features a diamond-stitched Alcantara. Audi has given the model a brand-exclusive steering wheel with leather/Alcantara and 12 o'clock marker as well as exclusive R8 floor mats with Crimson red leather edging.

Audi virtual cockpit, Audi smartphone interface, Audi phone box with signal booster, navigation, a 13-speaker Bang & Olufson sound system, and illuminated door sill inlays are included.

A carbon exterior package adds carbon fiber to the engine compartment and carbon sigma sideblades while the carbon interior package adds carbon fiber high-gloss surrounds for both the virtual cockpit and the air vents, as well as the center console.

The 2021 R8 Panther edition will be available in select dealerships this month with an MSRP of $183,300. There is an additional $1,495 destination charge, $1,700 gas guzzler tax, sales taxes, title, options, and dealer charges.

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