The premium segment doesn’t know what to do with the traditional wagon. On one hand, you’ve got Mercedes-Benz recently announced that it’s going to discontinue all of them. And on the other, there’s BMW, which is launching the M3 Touring after decades of pleading from its customers.
The 3 Series has always existed and is probably the sportiest small wagon ever made. But there’s never been an M3 version. This changes in 2022 with the introduction of a practical, 500 horsepower family car that will be available with AWD. It could potentially walk all over the Audi RS4.
On the other hand, the Lexus IS Sportwagen is barely remembered. In fact, the few mentions of it online are related to renderings from the same source as today. But such a car did indeed exist. The first-gen IS, the XE10, was closely related to Toyota Altezza Gita made and sold in Japan.
There were a few things that made it cool, including the availability of the 2JZ-GE engine. Starting to see a BMW connection yet? We’re obviously talking about the B48 inline-6 engine currently powering the Supra Mk5, essentially a successor to the 2JZ. But I actually think the 1G-FE was also really cool. Nothing sounds like a 2-liter inline-6!
The second-gen (XE20) Lexus IS didn’t have a wagon version, but it took the fight to the Germans in another way. The IS F famously became a thorn in the side of the BMW M3 and the Mercedes C63 AMG. Thanks to a 5.0-liter V8, this product of the 2000s could hit 60 mph in 4.2 seconds. It was also reliable and… different.
What’s cooler, a good BMW 3-liter or a Lexus V8?
Today’s Lexus IS is technically new, but we’re actually dealing with a cosmetic refresh for the model which came out in 2013. As Throttle House put it, the interior is “one decision away from a cassette player.” Young people aren’t going to get that joke, but the 2022 Lexus IS does actually have a CD player, and most don’t know what that is either. Where do you even buy CDs?
Anyway, this rendering from Chinese artist Sugar Design puts the nearly-real BMW M3 Touring next to the purely fictional IS Sportwagon, and it’s conflicting. The M3 would obviously be faster because the twin-turbo 3-liter is amazing and it’s got AWD. But the IS 500 5.0-liter V8 is just amazing to listen to.
And throughout history, these two cars have basically used each other’s configurations. Like most cars sold in Japan, the IS had AWD and that 2JZ we just mentioned, but it’s now known for its V8. Meanwhile, the M3 used to offer this amazing 4.0-liter, high-revving V8 during the E90 era.