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Sporty Good Looks
Friday, 01 November 2013

 

Lexus-IS250-face-on320x200The Lexus has impeccable build quality

We had the opportunity to test drive the new Lexus IS250 F Sport while on a Driver Training Day at the RAC's Grogan Rd Facility and the first thing to say, this is a great looking car! You may remember some of my comments regarding the odd combination of looks of the GS350 (overdone front and conservative rear), not so the IS250...

The third generation IS250 is a mid-sized luxury sedan and up against the likes of Audi's A4 1.8T, BMW's 3 series and Mercedes-Benz C200s, I think the Lexus has impressive good looks.

As usual, the Lexus has impeccable build quality and I really like the new front bumper/mesh grille/quarter panel treatment. The rear swoosh (Nike-like) line from the rocker panels to the rear light clusters gives it a sporty/flowing side view. Everyone present at the training day commented favourably on its appearance.

The body has been stretched 70mm, has a lower Cd 0.28 and utilises a ‘Laser Screw welding technique’ and ‘Bonding’ glue to increase torsional rigidity for improved handling.

Safety Features

It also incorporates Lexus's Pedestrian Sensing Bonnet and has eight airbags standard.

The F Sport is also equipped with Blind Spot Monitoring, which I found helpful in Perth's increasingly congested traffic!

Inside the cabin, the clean stacked appearance to the dash and centre console and the leather seats give it a crisp contemporary feel. There is the option of a ‘Dark Rose’ leather trim for the more adventurous.

The foam injected, heated and ventilated electric front seats provide excellent support and comfort. In the rear, seats incorporate a 60/40 split fold and with the sculpting at the back of the front seats, in addition to the increased cabin size, there is improved rear passenger leg room.

The IS250 has keyless entry and push-button start.

Again, the Lexus has an analogue centre clock and a 7" TFT Multimedia screen incorporating a HDD Sat Nav system. This is controlled via a centre console mouse, which I found difficult to use on the go but would probably become better at with practice! I found the cruise control switchgear (steering wheel mounted at 4 o'clock) a bit difficult for everyday use.

The F Sport has a LFA style 8 Virtual Tacho that physically moves to the right to reveal a trip computer and other vehicle information at the touch of a button ... a bit gimmicky but looks really cool.

Lexus-IS250-right-260x150On the track it was smooth, balanced and controlled

Under the Bonnet

With 1645kg kerb weight and a reliable, but ageing, 2.5 l Direct injected dual VVTi V6 motor ( 153 kW & 252 Nm) mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox driving the rears, the IS250's performance is adequate in this segment but struggles up against the Audi Turbo (320Nm) and the lighter BMW.

The tall lower ratios make it a little hesitant and it really requires decent revs (>4500) to get into its maximum torque zone but for city driving it’s perfectly adequate.

The electric power steering +VGRS is a bit vague in ECO mode but is noticeably better in Sport+.

Suspension has been upgraded, featuring a front double wishbone and the new Multilink rear suspension improves tyre grip in the corners. The revised rear suspension has also allowed increased rear boot space.

Road Feel

The F Sport is endowed with distinctive 18" alloy wheels and lower 35 profile tyres. On the track it was smooth, balanced and very controlled due to the VSC switching the Drive Mode Selector to Sport+ ‑ the steering firms as does the dampers via AVS, and the handling noticeably improves. The initial turn-in is more controlled and it sits flatter through the corners. ECO mode is for boulevard cruisers!

The brakes were progressive, didn't fade and did not engage ABS unless absolutely necessary.

Lexus quotes consumption at 9.2l/100km (ADR combined). Perhaps the real world of Perth traffic, expect cruising the freeway ~7, suburbs ~10, and a hard day at the office ~18/100 km.

The entry level IS 250 Luxury has the same engine, driveline and the most highly equipped base specification compared to its European rivals and you save $10K in the bargain. This is a car that you can really feel comfortable in as your daily driver, just keep it in Sport or Sport+ mode.