Lexus IS 300h

Premier

Lexus IS 300h, front
Lexus IS 300h, front
Lexus IS 300h, side
Lexus IS 300h, front
Lexus IS 300h, rear
Lexus IS 300h, rear
Lexus IS 300h, rear
Lexus IS 300h, rear
Lexus IS 300h, interior
Lexus IS 300h, interior

CARS often go through a mid-life or mid-generation facelift - some are dramatic with new engines, redesigns and updates to onboard technology, others are pretty insignificant and can really be classed as simply keeping the model in the limelight.

The latest mid-grade refresh of the third-generation Lexus IS falls into the first category.

The car still maintains its sporty styling and long coupe roofline, but the new IS looks more confident thanks to a stronger grille, large air intakes in the bumper, chrome finished exhaust tips, along with full LED lighting.

There are also new alloy wheel designs along with additional colours in the range.

Move inside and there is a bigger centrally-mounted 10.3-inch high resolution screen and the car I have just been driving featured new precision laser-etched dark wood trim inserts along with a 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system.

Other techno treats included a rearview camera, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery with seats that have eight-way power adjustment and can be both heated and cooled, Bluetooth connectivity and Lexus' premium navigation system.

Comfort levels within the car are good with ample room for back seat passengers to stretch out in style. The boot is generous in size too and can accommodate 450 litres of luggage. Elsewhere there are deep door pockets, a central bin, a good-sized glovebox, cup holders and a couple of handy trays.

The car was priced at £39,875 but a few optional extras bumped the price up to £41,485.

Powered by a 2.5-litre petrol engine it could reach 62mph from a standing start in 8.4 seconds and topped out at 125mph.

According to official figures, the Lexus could achieve combined fuel economy of 61.4mpg with carbon emissions of 107g/km.

All the car's main infotainment features are accessed via a control dial that takes a little while to get used to, but is very efficient thereafter. The large screen can be spilt into two sections to deliver varied information at a glance and the sat nav system is easy to programme.

Being a full hybrid, the petrol engine works in conjunction with an efficient electric motor and the car can be driven in various different modes.

By moving the rotary control dial the driver can move through Eco, Normal and Sport modes and the readouts adjust accordingly with data such as charge and power levels being highlighted when in Eco mode and a more traditional rev counter when in Sport. In addition, there an EV-only mode along with a Snow setting.

The Lexus IS 300h proved a true delight to drive and I clocked up more than 600 miles. In traffic the car cruised along weaving through the crowds with ease and parking was made simpler thanks to the reversing camera.

But in all honesty the Lexus was really in its element on faster motorways and dual carriageways. The acceleration through the CVT gearbox was responsive and there was a constant supply of power on tap at all times. There are steering wheel mounted paddles if you fancy taking more control of the gear changes.

Even when pushed hard, very little sound filters through to the cabin and the car's efficient suspension system irons out many of the road creases along the way.

The Lexus IS is packed with safety kit too, including a pre-crash safety system, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, sway warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beam, plus traction control, hill-start assist, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert and numerous airbags.

All in all, the Lexus IS 300h is a genuine all-rounder for anyone looking for a dynamic drive, high standards of comfort, great build quality and loads of on-board technology.

FAST FACTS

Lexus IS 300h Premier

Price: £39,875

Mechanical: 223bhp, 2,494cc, 4cyl petrol engine with electric motor driving rear wheels via automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 125mph

0-62mph: 8.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 61.4

Insurance Group: 30

C02 emissions: 107g/km

Bik rating: 20%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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