Given the release date of the IS300, isn't its real BMW competitor the 330i? Although the 330i will be more $$, I think the IS300 will immediately be at a performance diadvantage vs. the newer, faster BMW.
The new 330i BMW will be heavier than the current car and the factory spec 0-60 time of the automatic 330i is 7.0 seconds vs. 7.1 seconds for the IS300. I wouldn't complain over a 1/10 of a second difference in performance. Plus the 330i will definitely be more expensive...
The IS300 competitor is the BMW 3-series in general. The 323/325 and the 328/330 are both competitors b/c they are all in the same segment. The 3 series' performance could be better or worse than the IS, depending on the model you choose. Of course, the price for the 3 series will range from 30k to 45k whereas the IS300 will stay btw 31k and 35k. Basically, all IS300s will have similar performance, but not all 3-series will.
Toyota does offer manual, but Lexus has never offered a manual. Lexus has always focused on luxury so I can see why they were a little slow to see the importance of a manual in a performance sports sedan.
Has any Japanese company ever priced its products at or above a competitor when trying to gain market share? No. Not their way.
Great example is Yoko AVS Sports--great tire I have them. In the most popular size for the average "sport" package, 234/45/17, they are $50 less than Michelin and $30 less than the nearest tire in terms of performance. When you get into the bigger sizes the gap closes but they were willing to take the hit to get the tire on cars. Hey, I fell for it. $170 each for a tire that equals the best in many areas. That is the Japanese way but...you can't always copy "feel" or "soul".
When I bought my Lexus GS400 with the upgraded 17inch wheels (tire size 235/45-17), the car came with Bridgestone RE030's which are $248 a tire...These tires are more expensive than the Pirelli P-Zero by $32 and more expensive than the Michelin Pilot Sport as well. They are amonst the most expensive tires you can get in that size (according to TIRE RACK)... So I would assume that replacements for the IS300's REO40 Bridgestone tires Will NOT be cheap....
On another note, I'd like to say that the 17inch wheel/tire option on my GS400 was only $250, where's the wheel tire package upgrade on my father's 740iL cost $1800...
i think you guys are forgeting the copetition from mercedes, with the C-Class. Expecially considering that a redesigned C is coming in Sept. I think that will take a lot of the sales from this type of class
No doubt, the C-class will be a worthy competitor to the IS300, but I believe it will appeal to older buyers (due to its S-class sedate looks and higher projected price.) Primary competition to the IS300 will be the Audi A4 and BMW 3 series.