Lexus IS300h F Sport
Week ending November 29
Driven this week 347 miles
Read the full Lexus IS review
I had my first experience of our long-term Lexus IS300h this week, having been drawn to the car by its sporty Japanese style and promise of seriously good economy.
Initial impressions were good: I liked the seats and the way the car pulled away in virtual silence. Unfortunately, things deteriorated thereafter.
The ride on our F Sport-trimmed car is far too firm, so much so that I found myself actively avoiding urban bumps. When I ventured out onto the motorway, even the smallest ripples and joins in the Tarmac rapped their way through the cabin.
The steering, too, was utterly devoid of any sensation, yet the car responded instantly to any slight turn, all of which meant it was a real feat just to keep the IS travelling in a straight line. Surely cars like these simply have to be good at covering motorway miles. In that case, the IS feels decidedly off the pace to me.
Something else that feels like it’s a step behind what’s on offer in rivals is the infotainment system and control ‘mouse’. This is extremely hit-or-miss to operate at the best of times (when the car’s sitting still), and is downright frustrating when the firm ride causes you to miss the function you were aiming for.
That said, the fuel gauge didn’t move much despite me ‘pressing on’, and the whole hybrid drivetrain is impressively quiet.
By Euan Doig
Week ending November 15
Driven this week 411 miles
An overnight trip to Brighton and a few days of my usual M3 commute meant I spent a lot of time playing with the nav and audio functions in the Lexus IS.
I actually quite like spending time in the car. The seats are really comfortable and the sound system in our F-Sport model – which is the standard 6-speaker system – is pretty good. It doesn’t distort, even at high volumes, and the twin USB ports are also an unusual but really excellent standard addition.
I wish I could say such flattering things about the infotainment system itself, which I found infuriatingly fiddly even after a few days and good few hours of familiarisation. Sorry Lexus; it’s a nice idea but the mouse just isn’t as easy to use as the rotary controls in most other rivals.
By Vicky Parrott
Week ending November 8
Driven this week 610 miles
After running our long-term Lexus CT200h for the best part of a year, my abiding memory was of its spine-punishing ride.
That car was on the standard 17-inch wheels, so when I borrowed our new Lexus IS300h F Sport – which is on 18s – I feared the worst and made sure I still had my chiropractor on speed dial.
Fortunately, the IS came as a pleasant surprise on both my journey home and a longer trip to Devon. Our F Sport car might be firmer than the Luxury-spec IS that we drove a couple of months ago, but it never feels harsh in the way my CT200h did.
The updated CVT gearbox and larger petrol engine in the IS also mean it’s far more refined than my CT was.
Less impressive is the ridiculously clunky mouse-style controller that you use to operate the stereo and sat-nav in both the IS and CT; I find I’m forever clicking on the wrong icon.
Also, at night I like to dim the dash lights right down, which is easily done in the IS, but "ready" and "P" symbols remain brightly illuminated, even at fast motorway speeds.
This seems completely unnecessary. After all, I know that the car is ready to be driven when I’m already travelling at 70mph, and I don’t need to be told that parking sensors are active at this sort of speed, either.
In general, though, the IS is a very nice place to while away a long journey, offering a great driving position, supportive, multi-adjustable electric seats and good all-round visibility. I, for one, will be asking to borrow it again.