Lexus IS300h F Sport
Week ending March 21
Total mileage 4940
Driven this week 90
In theory, our petrol-electric hybrid IS300h promises diesel economy, with all the pluses of a petrol engine. In practice, the economy we’ve been achieving (around 40mpg – the Government average is 60.1mpg) suggests that complex technology may be a waste of time.
On the road, however, this car has refinement that beats most equivalent diesel-engined cars into a cocked hat. The e-CVT transmission attracts a lot of criticism from the motoring press (as all CVTs do), but the Lexus is quieter than most, and the full-throttle noise that is its most objectionable feature is relatively well masked.
The way this car is put together shames rivals, too. The cabin is, for the most part, a tactile delight. The F-Sport instrument display is a thing of beauty, the steering wheel is a work of art, and the sports seats are superbly supportive. Alas the seats and instrument display come only with this F-Sport trim, which is thirstier and less economical than other versions.
There is, within this Lexus, a good car trying to break out, but driving it makes me feel sad. If the money spent over the past 30 years on improving the dirty old diesel engine, and creating these complicated hybrids, had been spent on further developing the lightweight, free-revving, and, above all, clean, petrol engine, who knows what refined and economical cars we might now be driving?
By Mark Pearson
Week ending March 14
Total mileage 4850
Driven this week 73
I’ll admit to being partial to a Lexus – not sure if it’s the Alan Partridge in me or just that they seem to represent good value for money, but hopping into the IS300h for the first time was a little bit of a shock, because of the ‘interesting’ cabin design. Of course the moment I discovered the button that actuated the awesome sliding dial in front of me, the world was okay again and that feeling continued over the 100 miles I covered in it.
There was more road noise than I had expected, though, and for some reason I got pins and needles in my right arm if I used the door-mounted arm rest, but the economy and performance was reassuring if nothing else.
I even took the family out in it and no one complained about not having enough room. In fact, no one complained about anything, which must say quite a lot!
By Martin Port
Week ending March 7
Total mileage 4777
Driven this week 302
As an ex-owner of an LS400, I'm always keen to get into the latest Lexus, even one as dramatically over-styled as this new IS (have you seen the headlights?).
First impressions are good: the dashboard is modern and yet somehow familiar (later I realised it reminded me of a Renault 25’s), and is let down only by the super-sensitive touch controls for the heater.
Performance is decent enough for B-road overtakes, but the ride isn't great; it’s fidgety on the motorway and hard at all other times.
Somewhere under all that stiffness is a good car, but perhaps you need smaller wheels and softer suspension to find it.
By Paul Garlick