Less power, better economy and leave the prices as they are: thats the formula Lexus hopes will have the new IS200d flying out of showrooms.
The car is fitted with an updated version of its 2.2-litre diesel, with 148bhp (27bhp less than before), which is aimed at putting the IS firmly in the eye of company car buyers. The numbers appear to stack up: the IS200d averages 55.4mpg and emits 134g/km of CO2 dropping the car down three company car tax bands from 21 to 18%, while the car is also one VED band lower than its predecessor. Meanwhile, prices remain unchanged.
The bad news
Trouble is, while economy has improved, driveability has not, because the gearing is too long. If you are driving at 60mph in sixth gear and floor the accelerator, the car really struggles to pick up speed. Things become a bit more lively when the turbo starts to spin meaningfully, but you often find yourself going from sixth to fifth to keep up with motorway traffic, something that could annoy many business car buyers and probably negate the economy improvements in the process. The steering doesnt offer much feedback and the car is stiff and unsettled, too.
Lexus also offers a new trim called F-Sport, which is a kind of lookalike to the IS-F performance car. F-Sport versions come with bigger alloy wheels, a bootlid spoiler and a mesh grille. The interior has sports seats, Alcantara and leather upholstery, aluminium pedals and an F-Sport steering wheel.
However, combining this trim with the 200d engine is a little like putting chilli sauce on your scone the two just dont seem to fit. In this category, where a BMW 3 Series ticks so many boxes for running costs, drivability and comfort, theres little to recommend in this car.
What Car? says
The competition in the class is tough, and ultimately better