The hybrid version of the Lexus IS is cheaper to run than diesel rivals, thanks to its low CO2 emissions. We’d be surprised if the reliability and dealer service were anything less than excellent.
You’ll have to put up with an annoying drone when you rev the hybrid model – something you have to do, because performance is flat at low revs. Rear headroom is a bit tight and the infotainment system is distracting.
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Lexus IS performance
Diesel models dominate this class, but Lexus offers the IS only as a 2.5-litre petrol V6 (badged IS250) and a IS300h hybrid, which combines a four-cylinder 2.5-litre engine with an electric motor. Sadly, both lack the strong mid-range torque of turbocharged four-cylinder petrol units and diesels, so they feel weedy unless you floor the accelerator. An automatic gearbox is standard on both models; the 250 gets a six-speeder and the 300h a CVT.
Lexus IS ride & handling
All versions of the IS get conventional springs and dampers as standard, but F Sport models have slightly sportier settings and can be specified with an adaptive damping system. This lets you switch between Normal and Sport+ modes, but the differences are subtle; in both, the IS resists body roll well and generally offers a pretty comfortable ride. The steering on F Sport models feels more accurate than in other versions, although it doesn’t offer the precision that you get in a BMW 3 Series.
Lexus IS refinement
The IS250 sounds good when you put your foot down, whereas the IS300h responds with an annoying drone. It can also be hard to brake smoothly in both cars, due to a shortage of feel through the pedal. You hear some road noise over coarse surfaces, but wind noise is always well contained, and the hybrid can run near silently on electric-only power at town speeds.