In-depth Reviews

Lexus IS saloon - Engines, drive & performance

Handling is better than in previous versions of the Lexus IS, but the BMW 3 Series is still more fun

Carbuyer Rating

4.1 out of 5

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Owners Rating

4.5 out of 5

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Engines, drive & performance Rating

3.5 out of 5

The Lexus IS is a satisfying car to drive, offering lots of grip, strong braking and a decent amount of power. It’s not as sharp or agile as a BMW 3 Series, but it's by no means a poor choice if you like to savour the odd A-road.

True, it's only available with a frustrating CVT automatic gearbox, and the steering – while accurate and pleasingly weighted – lacks a little feel – but Lexus’ handling tweaks for the facelifted IS are successful, and it’s more enjoyable to drive than the outgoing model.

In an effort to make the IS sportier, Lexus has fitted a dial to control how much engine noise comes into the car’s cabin, but a lot of it is synthesised, so it doesn't sound very good. Turn this function off and the IS is a typically quiet and sensible Lexus at heart.

Lexus IS hybrid engine

The IS 300h has a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, boosted by an electric motor for a total output of 220bhp, but it doesn’t feel as fast as that number suggests. The 0-62mph sprint takes 8.3 seconds and top speed is 124mph. On the plus side, this engine is very hushed when cruising on the motorway, but as mentioned above the unusual CVT gearbox causes it to get quite noisy when accelerating hard.

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