BMW 330i vs. Lexus IS350Enlarge Photo
2006 Lexus IS 250/IS 350 by TCC Team
The meaning of "IS" is...what?
2004 BMW 330i by Marc K. Stengel
A new Performance Package endows BMW's 330i sedan with a distinctly sporty personality.
was a bumper year for Lexus, having sold 303,000 vehicles in the
In an attempt to rectify this situation, Lexus has designed the new IS as much with Europe in mind as North America, which is why there’s a manual 2.5-liter V-6, a 2.2-liter turbodiesel (the first ever diesel Lexus, in fact) and paddle shifters on the range-topping version, as well as the promise of sportier handling and better performance than ever before.
To see how successful they’ve
been, we got our hands on a brand new Lexus IS350 to put it up against its
subscribeThe styling of
many recent BMWs have caused quite a ruckus in the automotive world and while
BMW stands firmly and officially behind its chief designer, Chris Bangle, it has
simultaneously diluted his 7-Series design and wheeled out a new 3-Series that’s
only got the bare minimum of Bangle influence. I, personally, rather like the
sculpted surfacing and the athletic stance of the new 3-Series, and I also find
the detailing around the front lights and grille both striking and appealing.
The rear end, however, is a disorganized affair, ruined by those big, clunky
taillamps and unresolved lines running amok across its busy butt. The 3 is also
very sensitive to wheel size and color, looking much better in dark colors with
18-inch rims, which accentuate its bulging metalwork and make it look more
sinister. The current 3-Series probably won’t go down as a design milestone (as
almost every previous 3-Series has) but that doesn’t stop it being an imposing
and impressive machine from most angles, nonetheless.
Lexus’ designers have eschewed trendy “flame surfacing” in favor of clean, crisp metalwork, thereby dodging the kind of backlash BMW has endured, but that didn’t stop them peeking at the 3-Series for inspiration. The shape of the hood; relationship between grille, lights, and fenders; even the kink in the rear quarter-light all have BMW undertones, though melded inoffensively into the IS’ rather ambiguous overall shape. The IS does have a strong stance and broad shoulders, however, and the standard 17-inch wheels also fill out the wheel wells better than the BMW’s, but compared to the first IS, which still looks good to this day, the new car’s styling isn’t going to have many heads turning for a second glance. Lexus should have modeled the IS after the more imposing GS and worried less about what BMW was up to, I think. Case in point, look at the back of the IS: Free from BMW influence, the rear end is taught, aggressive, and so perky you want to wrap it in spandex and make it do lunges. More originality from Lexus’s stylists, please, because when left to their own devices they clearly possess the skills.