Back in mid-February, Lexus United Kingdom surprised us by releasing <A HREF="http://www.lexus.co.uk/lexus-today/the-all-new-is/index.tmex#/">pricing and equipment specifications for the 2014 Lexus IS 250 and IS 300h sedans</A> a month or two earlier than we had anticipated. As noted – and brought to our attention – by the <A HREF="http://lexusenthusiast.com/2013/02/20/lexus-uk-releases-2013-is-250-is-300h-pricing/">Lexus Enthusiast blog</A>, the base price of a no-options IS 250 SE increases from £26,226 (US$40,492) for 2013 to £26,495 (US$40,908) for the 3rd-gen 2014 version. The all-new, not-for-North America IS 300h hybrid, meanwhile, starts at £29,495 (US$45,540) for a base, no-options SE model.
Bear in mind that Lexus allows a fair amount of leeway in equipment, packaging and content between individual markets. Thus, we can't vouch for how much or how little correlation there'll be between what we see in the United Kingdom's SE, Luxury, F Sport and Premier models and what will be offered in other markets. Of broader, more international interest, however, is an additional bit of information revealed in <A HREF="http://blog.lexus.co.uk/2013/02/new-lexus-is-prices-and-specifications/">the Lexus UK blog</A>: the selection of exterior colors available on the 3rd-gen IS sedans:
Given how even the 3 major English-speaking markets (North America, United Kingdom and Oceania) use differing color names, we feel the need to elaborate and expound on this. With a bit of deduction and detective work (plus a little help from <A HREF="http://www.toyotareference.com/lexusis/2006-2014">ToyotaReference.com</A>), we can confidently predict what to expect regarding the 3rd-gen 2014 Lexus IS sedan exterior color palette. Fortunately, Lexus' official <A HREF="http://www.lexus.co.uk/">United Kingdom</A>, <A HREF="http://www.lexus.eu/index.tmex#/ExploreRange">pan-Europe</A> and <A HREF="http://www.lexus.co.nz/">New Zealand</A> websites provide the color codes alongside the names, so it wasn't a particularly difficult task.SE, Luxury and Premier models are available in eight colours: Velvet Black, Arctic Pearl, Satin Silver, Sonic Titanium, Mercury Grey, Mesa Red, Atlantic Blue and Celestial Black.
F Sport models are available in F Sport White and Ultra Blue, colours that are unique to this model.
One caveat, though: much of the leeway mentioned earlier regarding equipment levels in individual markets also applies to color choices. To name but a couple of random examples, the light silver-blue Breakwater Blue Metallic (color code 8R6) was offered in the United States but not in Canada; and the dark amethyst/gray-violet shade bearing the 9AL color code has never offered in North America but has appeared in other markets as Cattleya Purple (Europe), Tyrian Grey (United Kingdom) and Midnight (Australia/New Zealand). In other words, markets outside the UK may offer a slightly different, broader or narrower palette of exterior color options than the 10 listed above.
The carryover colors
Over half of the color choices for the 2014, 3rd-generation V6 and hybrid Lexus IS sedans will be very familiar straight carryovers from the outgoing, 2nd-gen V6 and diesel IS sedans. As listed below, we'll note, in order, the United Kingdom; North America (U.S. and Canada); Lexus Europe; and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand) names, followed by the universal, 3-character color code in parentheses (a pattern we'll repeat throughout this article):
- Velvet Black / Obsidian / Black / Onyx (212)
- Arctic Pearl / Starfire Pearl / White Pearl / White Pearl (077)
- Mercury Grey / Nebula Gray Pearl / Mercury Grey / Basalt (1H9)
- Mesa Red / Matador Red Mica / Morello Red / Burgundy (3R1)
- Atlantic Blue / Deep Sea Mica / Midnight Blue / Lapis Lazuli (8V3)
- Ultra Blue / Ultrasonic Blue Mica / Ultrasonic Blue / Ultrasonic Blue (8U1)
As with the current 2nd-gen sedan, Ultra(sonic) Blue is expected to be an F Sport-only option.
A seventh color also bears discussion here:
- Celestial Black / Stargazer Black / Starlight Black / Starlight Black (217)
This is a metallic black alternative to the non-metallic Velvet Black / Obsidian that bears the 212 color code. Although its sole United States appearance has been in Lexus' RX crossover SUV line (as Stargazer Black), it is currently available in the outgoing 2nd-generation IS sedans in just about every other major world market – even just north of us in Canada, where it bears the Starlight Black name used outside the UK and US. It will be interesting to see if the United States will continue to reject it as an IS option for the 3rd-gen sedans, or if we'll fall in line with the rest of the world and offer it here.
The new-to-IS colors
In addition, two of the colors offered on the 3rd-generation IS sedans are new only to those particular models, but have been available on other Lexus lines for the past year or so. They are:
- Satin Silver / Silver Lining Metallic / Satin Silver / Platinum Silver (1J4)
- F Sport White / Ultra White / F White / White Nova (083)
Lexus seems to be moving towards a two-pronged strategy insofar as its silver shades. The more mass-market, lower-priced lines (CT, ES, RX, IS C and, now, IS) use Satin Silver / Silver Lining Metallic (1J4), while the pricier, more upmarket IS F, GS and LS use Sonic Silver / Liquid Platinum (1J2) and the LX strikes out on its own with the 1F2 shade of silver known as Mercury Metallic in North America and Platinum in Oceania.
A roughly similar two whites strategy is also taking root, but, this time, the dividing line is not the vehicle's price point but whether or not it's an F Sport (or F) model. Longtime Lexus mainstay Arctic Pearl / Starfire Pearl (077) is your typical pearl white which looks a bit "milky" and leans just a bit off-white/ivory depending on lighting conditions. The 2013 IS F and F Sport versions of the CT, LS, IS C and, now, 2014 IS use the F Sport White / Ultra White (083), which, as a particularly bright pearl white pretty much straddles the divide between non-pearl, bright "refrigerator" whites and typically off-white-leaning pearl whites.
The all-new color
Debuting an all-new exterior color or two is typical whenever Lexus launches a new model or a new generation of an existing line. To name but a few recent examples, the HS was the sole recipient of Silver Opal Mica (1H0); the IS C launched Cerulean Blue / Cerulean Blue Metallic / Silvery Blue / Blue Pearl (8U9); the CT featured two new shades: Sienna Brown / Fire Agate Pearl / Volcanic Bronze (4V3) and Solar Yellow / Daybreak Yellow Mica / Solar Flare (5B1); the 3rd-gen GS's exclusive Meteor Blue Mica (8W3) and Crimson Red / Riviera Red / Crimson Crystal (3S8) hues; and the 6th-gen ES' initial appearance of Satin Silver / Silver Lining Metallic (1J4). Even the 2013 Lexus LS, which is more of a generation 4.1 than a full-fledged 5th-gen saw the initial application of F Sport White / Ultra White (083).
And the new, 2014, 3rd-gen Lexus IS sedan? Lexus insiders have whispered about a particularly beguiling new shade of silver, and mention in the Lexus United Kingdom blog of a Sonic Titanium with no apparent current equivalent or color code seems to bear this out. We'll have to wait and see if this is true, not to mention what alternate names it will bear in other English-speaking markets, and what the all-important color code will be.
The discontinued colors
With all this talk of a head-spinning assortment of silvers, a requiem for Argento Ice / Tungsten Pearl / Hakuren Silver / Silver (1G1) is due. One of only two colors offered during the 2nd-gen IS sedan's full 8-year run (Mesa Red / Matador Red [3R1] being the other), this outgoing shade of silver only remains available in the 2013 Lexus GX 460 SUV, and, with the GX due for a mid-life refresh for the 2014 model year, expect one of the newer silvers to replace 1G1 once and for all in that application as well.
Also seemingly disappearing from the 2014 Lexus IS sedan color palette are Cattleya Purple / Tyrian Grey (9AL); Cerulean Blue (8U9); and Sienna Brown / Fire Agate Pearl (4V3). A note on the latter, though: just as Cattleya Purple / Tyrian Grey (9AL) was never offered in North America, Europe similarly opted to pass on Sienna Brown / Fire Agate Pearl (4V3), at least for the IS line. Since it was offered not only in North America but in Oceania (under the Volcanic Bronze name) and given the current resurgence of brown exteriors in the U.S., it could conceivably live on in the new IS outside of Europe.
The 3rd-gen IS sedans' color palette heavy on whites, grays, silvers and blacks, while entirely appropriate for a contemporary entry-luxury sedan, makes this author yearn for the brighter, sportier hues that graced the original Toyota Altezza-derived Lexus IS at the turn of the millennium. Where, oh where are the distinctive, eye-popping Absolutely Red (3P0), Auburn Sky Pearl (3N3), Electric Green Mica (6R4), Solar Yellow (576) and Spectra Blue Mica (8M6)? Sure, the current and upcoming IS's Ultrasonic Blue (8U1) and, to some extent, Mesa Red / Matador Red (3R1) qualify, but still...
What about interior colors?
Perhaps the sedate exterior color palette is more apropos for contemporary trends towards brighter interior color options. While IS F and IS C owners could opt for unusual, offbeat interior color options such as the former's Alpine White/Black, Terra Cotta/Black, Orange/Black and Red/Black two-tones and the latter's Alabaster/Blue, Alabaster/Red and Saddle Tan, the "regular" 2nd-gen IS sedans offered nothing but humdrum Black, Light Gray and Ecru alternatives.
Fortunately, even in the conservative North American market, most of Lexus' sedan and hatchback lines have broken out beyond this boring trio of interior color options, as exemplified by the CT's Caramel NuLuxe; the GS and LS lines' Flaxen; the LS's Black and Saddle Tan two-tone combination; and the GS F Sport-exclusive Cabernet. The latter is the inspiration for what has emerged as a signature interior color option for the 2014 Lexus IS F Sport: Rioja Red, shown in the photo below. Like Cabernet, the Rioja name has strong red winemaking connotations, in this case bearing the name of <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Rioja_(Spain)">a province in northern Spain</A> with a <A HREF="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rioja_(wine)">centuries-long winemaking tradition</A>. Whispered rumors also suggest that the Flaxen interior color option (a barely-lighter take on Saddle Tan) will spread from the LS and GS lines to the IS.
Although Lexus remains officially silent in this regard, the standard offering of NuLuxe synthetic leather on the carmaker's lower-priced CT and ES lines strongly suggests this will also be the case in the comparably-priced 3rd-gen IS sedans. Full genuine leather would, thus, become an extra-cost option, just as it was for the original Lexus IS. On the other hand, we unfortunately believe that the microfiber-and-leather seating available on the 2nd-gen IS F Sport sedans will disappear, just as it once did when the Lexus IS line moved into its second generation back in 2005.