The Lexus IS has been around for 14 years but has only released two complete model generations within that span. Nonetheless both models have made the Lexus IS a relevant bit-player in the European market for compact executive class vehicles. The company was able to sell 15,000 units of its premium four-door in 2007 and 9,000 of those units were able to reach the UK segment. Although the numbers are just a fraction of what the BMW 3-series and Audi A4 sell, the figures prove that the Lexus was able to keep up when it came out with its low-emissions engine.
The Lexus IS stands out among the diesel engine norms of its competitors by only offering a petrol-only range instead. The 2.5-litre V6 unit is the model’s entry-level engine, while the V8 engine delivers sensational power with its 417bhp. The latter unit can arrive at a 62mph sprint at an impressive 4.8 seconds mark. Ride and handling is just as impressive, with the IS being able to grip keenly and turn swiftly. The vehicle is also able to absorb bumps along its mid-corners. Refinement keeps the cabin quiet, suppressing wind and engine noise all throughout.
Drivers will have no problems navigating through the logically laid out controls. A touch screen keeps the layout clean and minimalist. There’s also a lot of space at the front, so legroom is not limited for the driver. Standard kits are generous with the SE model already including keyless entry, climate control, alloys, and Bluetooth. The SE-I offers heated leather seats, rear parking sensors, and rain-sensing wipers. The greatest upgrade comes with the F-Sport model’s sportier look and 13-speaker stereo, while memory seats and wood trim are found in the SE-L trim.
One downside to its smooth handling is the lack of steering feedback. There’s also the unsettling and stiff response as you go through motorways or around town—the compromise made so that the IS maintains outstanding control along rollercoaster type roads. The F-Sport and IS-F trims tend to deliver this odd experience due to the lower suspension. Refinement is generally pleasing but road noise can be heard on the IS-F and IS. Expect this kind of noise to come as you go along coarse surfaces. An otherwise short journey ends up being tiring as you go along these kinds of roads.
Although the controls are properly laid out, the system itself isn’t too easy to understand. Plus taller drivers will have issues with the limited headroom. Front seats may have generous space, but the back seats suffer from such excess. The more reasonably priced VW Gold offers greater rear legroom. The boot space isn’t large either; this could put off IS owners intending to make this a long journey car. Luggage space is further limited by the narrow space found in between the wheelarches.
The Lexus isn’t the best bet for a sporting business saloon. It still lacks the necessary features that will hook serious drivers and car enthusiasts. The IS has a better chance being marketed as a standout low-emissions luxury option.
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