Lexus IS review
The longer you look at the Lexus IS, the more details you see that add to what is a thoroughly classy package. The gaping airscoops on either side of the sensual spindle grille; the spindle grille itself, although that’s probably the first thing you notice about this car; the line that runs from the rear taillights and flows into the door panel and then into the side skirt before it disappears in the sill and the sharp angles of the running lights, which underscore the headlights and also accentuate the sculpted bonnet. This is an attractive vehicle, and a car that has the performance to match the intent hinted at by its appearance.
The IS is described by Lexus as a compact sports sedan and slots into the range just above the ES mid-size luxury sedan, which is the gateway into the Lexus stable. The model line-up comprises the IS 300 EX, equipped with the two-litre turbo motor (180kW/350Nm); the IS 350 F SPORT boasting the revered 3.5-litre quad cam V6 (232kW/380Nm) and the petrol-hybrid IS 300h.
The IS 300h is obviously the model to go with if you’re into greener performance, powered as it is by a 133kW/221Nm 3.5-litre petrol engine operating in tandem with a 650-volt permanent-magnet, synchronous electric motor that produces 105kW of maximum power. The IS 300h’s power plant is mated to a seamless electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission which can be switched to a sequential shiftmatic mode, operated using paddle shifts on the steering wheel, giving a manual shift feel for a more engaging driving experience. Despite producing the combined equivalent of 164kW, the IS 300h uses petrol at a rate of just 5.0l/100km, and can still accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 8.5 seconds. At slow speeds, such as in heavy traffic, the IS 300h can be driven purely by electric power for zero emissions and zero fuel consumption.
You expect a premium quality interior with any Lexus, but it’s the attention to detail that stands out with the IS, adding more than a touch of class. The analogue clock, for example, is a jewel of design in a dashboard otherwise festooned with the latest technology. Another highlight is the consideration given to the tactile, sensory quality of the cabin surfaces. Every fact of the interior that is regularly touched during driving has been focused on for a pleasing interface, and while you don’t notice this every time you drive, subconsciously it increases the pleasure of commuting. Other key features include wall-to-wall, butter-soft leather and a large 10.3-inch high-resolution monitor that operates in conjunction with Lexus’ Remote Touch Interface for the multimedia system incorporating full in-car SatNav.
Also particularly impressive is Lexus’ safety features found on the 300h and F SPORT models such as Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Pre-Crash Safety System, LED Headlights with Auto High Beam and Adaptive Cruise Control all work together to make driving safer. Then there are eight airbags, should the worst happen.
Very few cars manage to nail the balance between sporty and sumptuous as well as the Lexus IS, especially when the level of standard specification and value for money are taken into account.
The IS range is priced from R718 700. It is covered by a class-leading 7-year warranty and 7-year/105 000km full maintenance plan.
Incredible build quality
High levels of technology and safety equipment
Sophisticated green powertrain