LEXUS IS350 F SPORT

In the clash of the com­pact sports sedans, the nim­ble Euro­pean heads the heav­ier and thirstier Ja­panese ri­val, says Craig Duff

The Advertiser - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD LEXUS IS350 V AUDI A4 -

VALUE

The sticker price is just about it for the F Sport, un­less you want to drop $2500 on a moon roof. De­fault gear in­cludes a 10.3-inch in­fo­tain­ment screen, eight-inch dig­i­tal driver’s dis­play, 15-speaker au­dio, adap­tive sus­pen­sion and LED head­lamps. Lexus’s war­ranty is four years/100,000km. Ser­vice in­ter­vals are 12 months/ 15,000km — the first visit is free; the next two cost $1162.

DE­SIGN/TECH

Be­yond the spin­dle grille, a po­lar­is­ing fea­ture, the Lexus looks the part in­side and out (Sports Lux­ury pic­tured) and the fin­ish is superb. A 480L boot is on a par with the A4. Rear head and legroom is ac­cept­able for all but the tallest adults. The clar­ity of the in­fo­tain­ment screen is bril­liant but the con­troller op­er­a­tion and menu se­lec­tion still aren’t as in­tu­itive as in the Audi.

EN­GINE

The IS turns the rear wheels via a 3.5-litre V6 (233kW/387Nm) and an eight-speed au­to­matic. The 0-100km/h sprint takes 5.9 sec­onds. The au­to­matic works seam­lessly but still can’t dis­guise the en­gine’s thirst. Of­fi­cial fuel use is rated at 9.7L/100km; Cars­guide used up to 11.6L.

SAFETY

Five stars from ANCAP. Ten airbags cush­ion oc­cu­pants if you crash the IS — and to do that you need to con­found a full suite of ac­ci­dent-avoid­ance soft­ware. Au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, adap­tive cruise con­trol, lanede­par­ture and blind-spot warn­ing and rear cross-traf­fic alert are stan­dard at this spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

DRIV­ING

This is not your typ­i­cal Ja­panese drive. Lexus has tried to make the F Sport a half-de­cent driver’s car and has suc­ceeded with­out tak­ing away the sup­ple­ness around town that is the more ex­pected trait of this mar­que. The IS350 feels heav­ier on its front wheels into the turns than the Audi, re­flect­ing the kerb weight of more than 1680kg (the A4 is 1510kg).

$73,540

18pts

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