The revised four-pot in this Lexus IS200d is 27bhp and 44lb ft down on the IS220d it replaces. Surely the unstoppable march of progress should give us more?
Lexus told us its ‘cleaned up the engine’, and that this new 2.2-litre diesel is ‘geared more towards economy than performance’. Yes, it is more economical than before and emits less CO2. But it’s also slower.
That new engine, with all its new fuel injection and turbocharger gubbins, needs to be worked hard, and the 0-62mph time feels slower than its quoted 10.2 seconds. The gearing is also quite tall, so on a motorway you’re constantly rowing the ‘box to keep momentum or overtake.
Refinement is, naturally, top-notch, though the ride is a little firm. With the F-Sport trim, squint hard, and you’re effectively looking at an IS-F: 18-inch alloy wheels, a bootlid spoiler, sports seats, a sports steering wheel and aluminium pedals are no bad thing.
But however good-looking Lexus makes the IS, rivals still have improved economy and performance. The bottom line is that a BMW 318d M Sport is cheaper, faster and more economical.
We like: Looks, rarity, sports seats
We don’t like: Lack of power and rear space
TopGear â€Šverdict: Good-looking alternative to the battery-farmed BMW 3-Series, let down by limp engine.
Performance: 0-62mph in 10.2secs, max 127mph, 55.4mpg
Tech: 2231cc, 4cyl, RWD, 148bhp, 251lb ft, 1635kg, 134g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Full HDD nav, park assist, £2,400
And avoid this: Mica paint, £610