Lexus IS300h Review & Ratings
- 15 February 2018
- Author: Nikolas Perseputto
Diesel models dominate the executive car class. the latest Lexus is designed to change that: it isn’t available with any diesel engines. instead, buyers can choose between a 2.5-litre petrol V6 (badged is250) and a is300h hybrid, which combines a four-cylinder 2.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor.
Of the two, it’s the hybrid that’s more likely to lure people away from diesel power, because it offers class-leading Co2 emissions and an official average of over 60mpg. Can it get near this sort of economy in realworld conditions, though, and is it as easy to live with as the best diesel executive saloons? We’ve got a year to find out. the entry-level se version of the is300h is particularly efficient, with Co2 emissions of just 99g/km.
However, lexus wanted us to try the sportylooking F sport model, which comes with bigger wheels that push that figure up to 109g/km. this 10g/km increase is enough to put the is300h F sport two company car tax bands higher than the se, but it still sits three bands below the cleanest BmW 3 series, the 320d eD. the F sport is also the most stylish version of the is (at least to my eyes) because it features digital instruments similar to the ones in Lexus’s lFa supercar, and swaps the slatted front grille of other models for a more modern mesh design.
What’s more, you get a long list of equipment as standard, including heated and electrically adjustable front seats, cruise control, keyless entry, front and rear parking sensors and a DAB radio. the only options that we felt it necessary to add were metallic paint and satellite-navigation, although the latter is seriously expensive because it’s available only as part of a £1995 pack that also includes a stereo upgrade (from six speakers to eight) and a reversing camera. so far, my average economy is falling some way short of the official figure, but when i really think about driving to maximise efficiency, the readout will hover around the 60mpg mark – especially at a steady 50-60mph.
Initial impressions suggest that the sports suspension and 18-inch wheels of our F sport car give it a more unsettled lowspeed ride than the luxury-spec is that we group tested a few months ago. the ride does improve a bit on the motorway, though, and the is is a relaxing car to cover long distances in because it’s good at shutting out wind and road noise. Better than a BmW 3 series and mercedes C-Class, in fact. true, the lexus’s engine can drone when you put your foot down, but it’s quiet at a steady cruise and doesn’t send vibrations into the cabin in the way some of its diesel rivals do.
I also find the driver’s seat keeps me comfortable, even when i’ve got to spend hours behind the wheel. However, while some colleagues have also praised the seats, others have complained that they find the base overly hard and that it sends their upper legs to sleep. another thing that i like about the is is the stereo, which offers a good depth of sound and doesn’t distort, even at higher volumes. Plus you get twin UsB ports – an unusual feature that i’ve found useful, because it lets me charge both my phone and my iPod on the move. it’s just a pity the various infotainment functions are controlled through lexus’s Remote touch interface, which works like a computer mouse, and remains infuriatingly fiddly and distracting even once you’re familiar with it.
Programming a destination into the sat-nav is particularly frustrating. the is isn’t without its flaws, then, but it’s an interesting alternative to the German saloons that dominate this class. i’m looking forward to getting to know it better over the coming year.