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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The IS is superbly built and well specified, and performs well

Against The steering is dull, the ride is unsettled, and too much road noise can be heard

Verdict A fine car, but spoilt by the unsettled ride and noise

Go for… 250 2.5 SE

Avoid… 250 2.5 Sport

Lexus IS Saloon
  • 1. The cabin is a fine place to be, with loads of standard equipment and safety kit
  • 2. The dash is a little fussy, and space in the back could be more generous, but there’s no doubting the quality
  • 3. Many ISs will be ex-company cars, so look for signs of abuse such as scuffed interiors and kerbed alloy wheels
  • 4. Room in the back could be a bit more generous for what is a potential family car
  • 5. The 2.5-litre V6 is on a par with swifter BMW 3-Series, while the 2.2 turbodiesel has plenty of go, too
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Lexus IS Saloon full review with expert trade views

Lexus listened to criticisms of the previous IS and set out to address them in this model. And, for the most part, it has been successful: this is a great-looking car with much stronger engines than before. The 2.5-litre V6 has performance on a par with swifter models in the BMW 3-Series range, while the quiet 2.2 turbodiesel has plenty of go, too.

However, the IS is still let down by steering that has neither the feel nor the accuracy of the 3 Series’. True enough, the IS grips well through corners, but its over-firm ride can't find a comfortable balance in town or on the motorway.

On the oter hand, the cabin is a fine place to be, with loads of standard equipment and safety kit. We think the dash is a little fussy and space in the back could be more generous, but there’s no doubting the build quality.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Even stronger image than previous model. Rarity will ensure that values hold up

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

Engine-wise, there’s a straight choice between the 2.5-litre V6 petrol and the 2.2 turbodiesel. And, our vote goes to the punchy, swift petrol engine, not only for its performance but also for its superb refinement. However, the diesel's by no means bad, one of the most powerful in its segment and returning a fine 44.8mpg combined economy.

You can also find IS models with an automatic gearbox in place of the six-speed manual, but we’d stick with the manual.

Whichever engine you prefer, there are four trim levels, starting with the basic IS. This is anything but basic, though, coming with cruise and climate controls, CD autochanger, and alloy wheels.

Our favourite SE trim ups the size of the alloys and adds electrically adjustable leather seats, while the SE-L goes even further on the electric gadget count. Finally, Sport models have a subtly aggressive body kit and firmer suspension.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Lexus dealers have loads of demos, 250 SE the value buy

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The IS represents excellent value for money, thanks to all of the standard equipment. And, it won't be too expensive to run, either. The petrol engine is a sound bet as it manages to return a decent 28.8mpg, but the diesel version is even easier on the wallet.

Insurance costs, too, are reasonable for a compact executive as the petrol IS250 sits in group 13 and the diesel IS220 in 12.

Lexus dealers’ servicing costs may be higher than many more mainstream manufacturers’, but labour rates undercut BMW’s and Mercedes’ by some margin, according to Warranty Direct. There are not many independent Lexus specialists out there, but if you can find one this will reduce your service bills even further.

One thing that might bump up running costs compared to rivals are the 10,000-mile service intervals. Rivals have longer periods between scheduled stops.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Even stronger image than previous model. Rarity will ensure that values hold up

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

As the IS is still a relatively new model, there’s very little to be wary of, especially with Lexus’ hard-earned and very well deserved reputation for reliability. And, of course, any used model will still have some of the original new-car warranty left to run, which will give you even more peace of mind.

Mind you, you can hardly get much more of that, as the company has regularly topped our reliability surveys. And, the JD Power customer satisfaction report also shows that owners of the previous-generation IS are a very happy bunch, so the omens are good for this model.

As a result, the only real things to look out for are what you'd look out for on any car of this type. Many ISs out there will be former company cars, so look for signs of abuse such as scuffed interiors and kerbed alloy wheels.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Lexus dealers have loads of demos, 250 SE the value buy

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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