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17 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Buying a Car Vehicle Inspections Car Data Checks Car Reviews … отключены
LEXUS GS GS 300h SE E-CVT Continuosuly Variable

Lexus IS — preview

The Lexus IS long had the air of ‘under-confident also-ran’ about it. You certainly couldn’t say that of the third generation model. Andy Enright reports.

Ten Second Review

The MK3 Lexus IS appears to be an object lesson in how to develop a car smartly while playing to corporate strengths. Does it have what it takes to beat its BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class rivals? It’s early days yet but the top hybrid IS 300h variant might well offer a technical challenge that none of the Germans can quite level with head-on.

Background

It would be easy to list what was wrong with the last second generation Lexus IS model. Off the top of my head, I’d nominate the underwhelming diesel engine, the lack of space in the back, the off-pace emissions and economy figures and interior styling that lacked any great sense of occasion. Yet quality was something the IS had in spades.


Deeply engineered quality, rather than merely the superficialities of soft-touch plastics and solid door slam sounds. It was reliable. Well sorted. Thorough. That’s not enough to generate the sort of showroom appeal to level with the likes of Mercedes, Audi and BMW though.

So when Lexus had a third crack at the IS, it came up with something radically different. Something more assertive, which didn’t need to try and copy its German rivals. The latest IS is defiantly Japanese and all the better for it.

In other words, it’s a car that might well have finally come of age.

Driving Experience

The good news at the launch of this car was that Lexus had dropped the underwhelming 2.2-litre diesel engine that had weighed down the aspirations of the old MK2 model and was instead offering merely a pair of petrol engines. An ordinary one — and alongside it, something to come up against the kind of diesel thinking that dominates this market segment: a hybrid. This won’t come as any surprise to Lexus followers.

You choose between a petrol engine and a petrol/electric hybrid in the LS, RX and GS model lines — and now you do the same with the IS. So, as well as a direct-injection, four-cylinder, 2.5-litre petrol unit in the IS 250 that offers an attractive opening price tag, there is also an IS 300h petrol/electric variant. This has a 2.5-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor and looks set to be the mainstay of the IS range. The suspension and steering have been revised to improve how the IS drives and there’s a new Drive Mode Select system that allows the driver to choose between Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport S modes. Cars that have Adaptive Variable Suspension have a fifth mode — Sport S+.

The good news at the launch of this car was that Lexus had dropped the underwhelming 2.2-litre diesel engine that had weighed down the aspirations of the old MK2 model and was instead offering merely a pair of petrol engines. An ordinary one — and alongside it, something to come up against the kind of diesel thinking that dominates this market segment: a hybrid. This won’t come as any surprise to Lexus followers. You choose between a petrol engine and a petrol/electric hybrid in the LS, RX and GS model lines — and now you do the same with the IS. So, as well as a direct-injection, four-cylinder, 2.5-litre petrol unit in the IS 250 that offers an attractive opening price tag, there is also an IS 300h petrol/electric variant.

This has a 2.5-litre petrol engine paired with an electric motor and looks set to be the mainstay of the IS range.

Design and Build

There hasn’t been a bad looking Lexus IS to date and the latest version continues that theme. You can see the lineage from the basic proportioning of the second generation car but everything is sharper, tauter and more muscular than before. It’s a striking piece of metalwork. The front end features two different front grille treatments — a more sedate take on the Lexus spindle grille in the SE, Luxury and Premier trims and a bolder mesh grille on the F Sport variant. SE models get rather unremarkable 16-inch alloys, the Luxury models get smarter 17-inch rims while the Premier and F Sport versions ride on lovely 18-inch wheels, with five spokes in the case of the former and ten for the latter.

The IS features a number of design cues first seen on the LF-CC concept car, including extrovert rear lights that swoop downwards into the flanks of the car and the top F-Sport variant’s curved front spoiler. The interior features a chunky centre console and elements borrowed from other models in the Lexus range, such as the analogue inset clock and big LED display. It’s a more conspicuously styled interior than the rather functional cabin of the second generation car and the mix of materials used as well as the contrasts of colour and texture generate a far more upmarket feel.

Design literacy is taken for granted in this sector.

Market and Model

LEXUS GS GS 300h SE E-CVT Continuosuly Variable

Lexus customers never go short of equipment and even the entry-level IS has a quota of extras that can put German rivals to shame. You might want to upgrade the SE’s 16-inch alloys but otherwise, it’s doubtful you’ll be disappointed with the Drive mode select system (with Normal, Eco Sport settings, plus an additional EV mode on the IS 300h), cruise control, a smart entry and start system, dual zone air climate control and power-fold heated mirrors. Then there are HID headlights with dusk sensing, eight airbags, a DAB digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity and 60/40 split fold rear seats on the IS 250. That makes the sticker price of around £26,500 for the IS250 seem remarkable value compared to a BMW 320i Luxury, which gets a smaller 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and still costs over £2,000 extra. Step up to the Lexus IS Luxury trim and you’ll find Lexus Park Assist, rain-sensing wipers and those 17-inch alloy wheels.

The Premier models meanwhile, really do get all the gear thrown at them and are priced accordingly — from around £35,500 for the IS 250 and around £38,500 for the IS 300h. Here you get auto folding door mirrors, eight-way power-assisted leather seats with heating and ventilation, an electrically operated steering column and some really tasty infotainment functions. These include a 7-inch full hard disk-based sat-nav system with rear view camera and dynamic services and a Mark Levinson 15-speaker stereo with 5.1 channel surround sound.

The top F Sport variant meanwhile, gets sports suspension with a lateral damping system, a sports body kit, instrument meters styled on those used by the Lexus LFA supercar, aluminium pedals and F-Sport leather trim for the steering wheel and gear stick.

Cost of Ownership

Let’s talk about that no-diesel policy. It’s become something of a Lexus trademark and it’s one that is undoubtedly going to cost them sales here in the UK. That said, I admire the way they’ve stuck to their guns and concentrated on that which they are experts at, namely petrol/electric hybrids. It would have been depressing to see them try to take on the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes armed with another half-hearted diesel offering like the Corolla-sourced engine that featured in the last IS model.

The IS 300h looks to be the real deal and deploys its power through an E-CVT transmission for seamless and easy city driving. It’s clean too, with a sub-100g/km CO2 figure and economy of over 65mpg. Residual values of the IS have always been good, propped up by the model’s brilliant reliability and customer satisfaction metrics, as well as modest insurance ratings.

This version looks set to continue that form line.

Summary

This third generation Lexus IS sounds promising. The things that were wrong with the previous generation car have been surgically excised. This is a bigger, more confident car that does away with the apologetic diesel engine and ushers in a fantastic petrol/electric hybrid unit of the sort that Lexus does best. The bad points appear to have been addressed while the good bits, such as equipment provision and technology integration, are as impressive as ever. As indeed will be the dealer back up which is second to none.

If you’re a little jaded with the three main choices in the compact executive saloon sector. In other words, if you simply don’t want yet another BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class or Audi A4, then here’s a different way to go. Yet a choice that doesn’t punish you for a bit of individuality, whether that be dynamically, financially or merely through having your decision-making called into question. That’s what Lexus hopes to have provided with this third generation IS.

Perhaps there is a fourth way after all.

LEXUS GS GS 300h SE E-CVT Continuosuly Variable
LEXUS GS GS 300h SE E-CVT Continuosuly Variable
LEXUS GS GS 300h SE E-CVT Continuosuly Variable
LEXUS GS GS 300h SE E-CVT Continuosuly Variable
LEXUS GS GS 300h SE E-CVT Continuosuly Variable
LEXUS GS GS 300h SE E-CVT Continuosuly Variable

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