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Lexus IS 300h Luxury

Lexus IS 300h Luxury

Jon Smith, 2017-12-03

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IF you want to know the future, don't bother visiting a clairvoyant or a soothsayer.

A better bet maybe to have a word with the people at Lexus and Toyota...they seem to be able to read the tea-leaves better than most.

Back in 2013 when the third generation Lexus IS came out - that's the Japanese answer to the 3 Series BMW and Mercedes C-Class - they took the brave step of dumping the diesel option and building petrol-only engines, mainly hybrids. This, despite the sector being dominated by oil-burner engines.

How shrewd did that prove to be, in light of ‘dieselgate' debacle. Now a growing number of car makers are following suit and exploring hybrid options as CO2 emission and NOx levels tighten globally.

I drove the recently revamped IS 300h, a car that sets out to appeal young execs and budding middle managers who nevertheless have family commitments. It's sharply styled, low slung and has an image somewhat more racy than its substance.

Where the Lexus scores highest is in the area of refinement and prestige. Few models from any car manufacturer can match the build integrity and the air of quality exuded by the Lexus. The cabin is beautifully executed with perfectly fitting panels, positive switchgear and high grade instruments. There's a feeling of restrained opulence about the interior.

And just as well, because there are more spacious rivals which are more family friendly thanks to tricks like wider door pockets and deeper oddment bins. The boot, though roomy enough, has a narrow aperture through which to manoeuvre luggage. The rear seats split and fold, which is a plus.

Power comes from a 2.5-litre petrol engine and an electric motor which together knock out a reasonable 220bhp.

With a acceleration to 62mph in 8.4 seconds, the IS is brisk rather than rapid. It's a silky smooth unit that revs freely but you can't expect the same reserves of torque as are usually available in diesel rivals.

With petrol rather than diesel power, noise levels are much lower, adding to the Lexus's air of refinement.

A continuous variable transmission is standard in the IS300h. Not everyone likes this type of automatic gearbox but I found it matched the car's nature and could be good fun if plenty of use is made of the steering wheel paddles which effectively establish ‘steps' in the transmission.

Cornering and handling is of a high standard, coupled with an absorbent yet roll-free ride that kept both driver and passengers happy.

Meagre fuel consumption and low levels of emissions are two factors that are expected to go hand-in-glove with hybrids. But push the IS300h hard and you'll notice a big difference when you fill up.

Drive gently and the mid-40s are within grasp, but make full use of the paddles and the figure will sink at least 10mpg. My average was 36mpg.

Fast Facts

Lexus IS 300h Luxury

Price: £39,885

Mechanical:220bhp, 2,494cc, 4cyl petrol-hybrid engine driving rear wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 125mph

0-62mph: 8.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 60.1

Insurance Group: 36

C02 emissions: 107g/km

Bik rating: 18%

Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles

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