First Drive Lexus IS 300h Luxury BT

18 Фев 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи First Drive Lexus IS 300h Luxury BT отключены
LEXUS IS IS 300h SE CVT Continuosuly Variable

First Drive: Lexus IS 300h Luxury

Being left of the main field sometimes has its advantages. While BMW, Mercedes and Audi play safe with their respective designs, Lexus has increasingly chosen to offer a more radical choice when it comes to looks and general aesthetics.

This is most apparent with the Japanese car maker’s latest, third generation IS. Pitched as the entry-level choice in the premium boutique arm of Toyota’s massive empire, its bold nose and equally striking rear ensure that it can’t be mistaken for anything else in the office car park.

And that’s exactly what Lexus wants to achieve in this fiercely competitive market: recognition. It’s also seeking to buck current trends when it comes to engine choice. For starters there’s no diesel option, a fuel that has served its European rivals well in recent years.

Instead, and hardly a surprising development, Lexus will be concentrating on petrol power and a hybrid option. Of course, this fits perfectly with Toyota’s considerable push in hybrid circles. The question is, can Lexus convince buyers to abandon the black pump?

Visually, at least, the new IS is a striking car. In a break from the norm, its designers have stayed faithful to the concept car that heavily influenced the production version’s looks.

A similar bold approach has been taken inside, with lots of plush, upmarket materials covering the bold form of the car’s fascia and seats. There’s a new Mark Levinson-branded audio unit boasting audiophile quality sound, while the various major and minor controls operate with a weight and action that puts many of the car’s rivals to shame.

In a bid to attract more buyers this IS has grown slightly, and now offers more cabin space — especially for rear seat occupants. There’s also a decent-size boot and an envy-inducing level of standard kit across the four-model range as per Lexus’ usual approach to differentiating itself from the German opposition.

However, it’s on the road where the IS offers a genuinely different driving and ownership experience. For many the 2.5-litre petrol variant will be the conventional choice. Its six-speed auto gearbox is a smooth-shifting device, while the engine’s 205 horsepower offers brisk performance but modest economy credentials — 32.8mpg and 199g/km CO2.

And this is where the IS 300h comes in, as the hybrid version boasts emissions from 99g/km CO2 and 65.7mpg. For business users you can see how big a deal this could be: low cost of ownership and an equally low tax outlay — at least in the case of the 99g/km SE variant.

To achieve these numbers Lexus has opted for a 2.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol motor combined with an electric motor and battery pack. The combined output of this package is a healthy 220 horsepower and comparable performance stats to the regular petrol model. The conventional six-speed auto gearbox is replaced by a continuously variable transmission (CVT), which does result in a slightly different driving experience.

In essence the hybrid IS doesn’t like being rushed, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. By definition, maximising a hybrid car’s potential involves a smooth approach to driving. And there are no doubts surrounding the car’s smooth, refined and measured approach to motoring.

Electric-only driving is easily achievable at low speeds around town, while the clear graphics of the car’s trip computer allow you to see exactly when the engine and battery are contributing to forward motion. Furthermore, the physical transition between engine and battery power is near seamless, and another illustration of the Lexus approach to engineering maximum refinement into the driving experience.

LEXUS IS IS 300h SE CVT Continuosuly Variable

Does this mean the IS 300h is the saviour of executive economy motoring? Not necessarily for everyone, but there’s no question that for some the car’s numbers make a compelling case in a business environment if reducing your expenditure is a priority. There’s also now a noticeable ‘edge’ to the car’s ride and handling characteristics, which is something Lexus has consciously engineered into the IS in a bid to complete more closely with the BMWs and Audis of this world.

The end result is a car that oozes sophistication inside and out, thanks in the main to bold exterior design, a high class, no compromise cabin and a level of refinement when on the move that’s second to none. If petrol, and particularly petrol-electric hybrid, is you preferred choice in the compact executive market, this much-improved Lexus IS is worthy of serious consideration.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Model: Lexus IS 300h Luxury, from £30,995 on the road. IS range from £26,495.

Engine: 2.5-litre petrol unit plus hybrid electric motor developing a combined 220bhp.

Transmission: continuously variable transmission (CVT) as standard, driving the rear wheels.


Performance: Maximum speed 125mph, 0-62mph 8.3 seconds.

LEXUS IS IS 300h SE CVT Continuosuly Variable
LEXUS IS IS 300h SE CVT Continuosuly Variable
LEXUS IS IS 300h SE CVT Continuosuly Variable
LEXUS IS IS 300h SE CVT Continuosuly Variable

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