A GOOD friend of mine who managed to extract himself from huge debts and a vast mortgage by dint of 14 hour days and a good brain has just bought himself a Lexus.
He looked at all the other smaller executives and realised that, even though they were diesel powered, the IS 300h hybrid was just as economical.
The Lexus also suited him because of its excellent driving position and standard automatic gearbox. He's absolutely delighted with it and so I decided I had better drive one to see if I agreed.
The average real road economy I got was 44mpg, which is almost the same as the 43 he gets all the time and he says that's better than his previous 2.0-litre diesel.
This car came in delicious electric blue and attracted looks from all angles as I drove through town.
Ninety per cent of IS buyers pick this hybrid model, which has a combined power output of 223bhp from its 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine and electric motor, driving the rear wheels through a continuously variable (CVT) automatic gearbox with a number of different modes.
That sounds like a very good power output, but when driving, acceleration is more linear than shove in the back and that suits the car's ethos of long distance cruising refinement.
In normal mode the management system chooses between petrol or electric power or a combination of the two.
The Lexus Drive Mode Select system gives a choice of Eco, Normal, Sport or Sport+ configurations that alter the response of the engine and the gearbox. Eco tones things down a bit from Normal, using more electric motor and Sport and Sport+ sharpen everything up.
There is also an EV mode that uses the electric motor exclusively until the battery runs out of charge and the best distance I have heard of covered by an owner is over two miles - but only with a very light right foot.
The gearbox also has a Snow setting to give better traction in slippery conditions and a manual setting, with paddles behind the steering wheel to make the changes. But as I have often written, why buy a dog and bark yourself!?
The Lexus is a hugely quiet and refined cruiser and the engine is only audible when you put your foot down.
It's very accomplished in almost every way, with good handling helped by decently informative steering and sticky road-holding.
It is a little unsettled on rough roads in town at lower speeds but above 25-30 miles an hour it's comfortable over all surfaces.
The cabin is a lovely place to be. Everything feels very good quality and the clever binnacle is clear and easy to read, with both conventional and electronic screen information.
Apart from the yawning chasm of a grill, it's a great looking car, but I find that front end simply ugly.
Equipment includes a leather covered multi-function steering wheel and electric heated and cooled leather seats, with a memory that includes the mirrors and the electrically adjusted steering column.
It has excellent puddle lights, sat nav, a monitor screen in the dash to show petrol and electric motor use, an excellent stereo with DAB radio, cruise, stability control, Bluetooth, climate, folding back seats and parking sensors.