Lexus IS300h F Sport
Week ending January 31
Total mileage 3840
Driven this week 90
The Lexus rightly gets a little bit of stick for lacking the finesse and poise of the best executives but as someone whose regular ride is hybrid, I was interested to see how the Lexus drove as a comparison to my Volvo V60.
In terms of price, the Lexus is considerably cheaper than the Volvo but you would not think so at a glance. The Lexus, particularly in F Sport trim is an intimidating looker. The Volvo is handsome, rather than aggressive. Inside, both feel like high quality cars, but to my eyes and hands, the V60’s interior is far more cultured. The Lexus is stylish in its own way, but the clever touches such as the touch-control heating system and the chunky steering wheel cannot match up to the comfort and calmness on offer in the Volvo.
Where the Lexus really falls off in comparison is on the road. Admittedly, the V60 has puddingy steering and is set up for comfort, rather than speed but it’s hard to work out what the Lexus is set-up for. It has a very firm, almost uncomfortable ride and the steering lacks consistency and communication. The V60 is certainly quicker and smoother.
Where the two are similar is in the underwhelming fuel economy and both are at their most compelling as company cars, with Lexus and Volvo coming in less than £150 and £100 per month respectively. Whether that is enough to make you consider either of these appealing but flawed cars, depends on your priorities. I’d be tempted to look for something a little more complete.
Week ending January 24
Total mileage 3750
Driven this week 430
I had the opportunity to spend a weekend in our long-term Lexus IS last weekend. The car strikes me as a hugely missed opportunity, which annoys me. First the good points. It looks sensationally sporty – I think it’s easily the best of the current crop of compact executives. It’s also fabulously well appointed, with a high-end audio system, heated everything and plenty of tech to keep you safe.
So why is it so wilfully reluctant to give you any kind of driving pleasure? The steering is one of the prime culprits because it is utterly devoid of sensation and is slightly ‘sticky’ around the straight-ahead position, which makes keeping the car in a straight line far too difficult. It’s no better on A- or B-roads, because you have absolutely no clue how hard the front tyres are gripping. The car does actually handle well, but the only sensations you receive are through your backside – the steering is completely mute.
My second major gripe is with the infotainment system. At some point in its development, someone somewhere must have said to a large meeting of high-ups: ‘We’ve developed this – isn’t it great?’ At that point they should have been told: ‘Don't be silly. Try again.’ For a start, the menus are verging on indecipherable and are so unintuitive that more often than not you end up giving up on what you want to do. Second, controlling it using the ‘mouse’ controller is tricky at best, and nigh on impossible on a bumpy road. Far from being an enhancement it is a downright distraction. For example, all I wanted to do was switch on the sat-nav’s voice, but I ended up having to pull over and consult the manual (which is hundreds of pages long!).
Sad to say, but I was glad to hand back the keys after the weekend.
By Euan Doig
Week ending January 17
Total mileage 3320
Driven this week 120
At the moment our IS300h is averaging just over 37mpg, so it’s falling some way short of the official average: 60.1mpg.
Now, though, Lexus is offering us some hybrid driver training in an effort to help us maximise fuel economy.
This training, which apparently takes around three hours, is usually done at the dealer when you buy a Toyota or Lexus hybrid. However, it’s something we missed out on because we had our car delivered.
It will be interesting to see how much the fuel economy improves once we’ve been taught how to get the best from the IS.
By Steve Huntingford
Week ending January 10
Total mileage 3200
Driven this week 170
I have only driven the Lexus for a few miles, but I enjoyed the short time I spent in it. It is a very comfortable, large car, but it's also easy to drive.
The amount of legroom in the back is great, too - so for once I didn't have to spend time cleaning my little passenger's muddy footprints from the back of the front seats.
My only minor complaint is the parking brake. It's a very small pedal that's really tucked up at the top of the driver's footwell, making it awkward to find when you are new to the car.
By Sarah Hossack
Week ending January 3
Total mileage 3030
Driven this week 230
Little details can make a big difference, and for me the design of the instrument dials in the IS300h F Sport really adds to its appeal.
Most of the time this area of the dash is dominated by a large, centrally positioned rev counter to reinforce the car's sporty pretensions. However, when you want to see additional information - such as fuel economy info or sat-nav instructions - the bezel that contains the rev counter slides off to the right to free up space.
All right, this is a bit gimmicky, but it helps make everything easy to read while providing a real wow factor.
By Steve Huntingford