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Car Review

Lexus IS review

£33,005 - £44,305
610
Published: 19 Jan 2017
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Driving

What is it like to drive?

The IS, despite being a reasonably compact rear-drive saloon, isn't a driver's car. It's simply not rewarding enough. Show it a series of tempting bends and sure, it'll corner without leaning over too abruptly, but the steering is glassy and remote. The eight speed automatic gearbox is slow to respond in its default setting, and though this can be nipped in the bud by selecting Sport mode, the changes themselves are more slurred than snappy. The chassis doesn't want to entertain - there's no sense like you get in a Jaguar XE or BMW 3 Series that even the basic models have been set up by people who enjoy driving. In the main here, we're talking about the IS200t, because it's by far the more dynamic model. That said, the 2.0-litre turbo motor never feels the full 237bhp, and is far happier melting into the background than singing centre stage.

The hybrid, meanwhile, really pushes the envelope of what constitutes a sports saloon. Because as far as we're concerned, a machine equipped with a lethargic CVT and saddled with the associated weight of batteries can't live up to that moniker. An IS200t feels leagues lighter in direction changes, sweeping bends and on the brakes in comparison. Neither are exactly rapid, but the 8.3 seconds the IS300h needs to haul itself to 62mph isn’t really befitting of the car’s looks and Lexus’s promise of performance.

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But as we've said, the hybrid IS300h is a fleet favourite, considered for its ecology, not its excitement. Drive the IS300h more sympathetically and the boons of traffic mooching in silent EV mode become apparent. Unless you drive to the powertrain's strengths, you'll never top 40mpg, but urban behaviour especially will top that, along with rival diesels. Beware a slightly coarse ride on 18 inch wheels, and look out for the surprising amount of tyre noise the car permits into its cosy cockpit. The sunroof's also a culprit for more wind noise than you'd find in the likes of the serene Audi A4, too.

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Highlights from the range

the fastest

Lexus IS 250 SE 4dr [2009]
  • 0-628.1s
  • CO2231.0g/km
  • BHP208
  • MPG28.8
  • Price£24,165

the cheapest

Lexus IS 250 SE 4dr [2009]
  • 0-628.1s
  • CO2231.0g/km
  • BHP208
  • MPG28.8
  • Price£24,165

the greenest

Lexus IS 300h 4dr CVT Auto
  • 0-628.4s
  • CO2104.0g/km
  • BHP223
  • MPG61.4
  • Price£33,005

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