Max torque

Friday - - Motoring - Six-speed auto, RWD 204bhp @ 6,400rpm @ 4,800rpm 225kph 8.1 seconds Dh190,000 So re­fined to drive, great build qual­ity Far too ex­pen­sive com­pared to its ri­vals

sharp-look­ing small sa­loon. The most con­spic­u­ous changes out­side are the full-faced mesh grille and larger air ducts up front, spoil­ers, skirts and a set of 18in al­loy wheels with LFA-in­spired split-spokes. If for some rea­son you miss th­ese, Lexus has thrown a few F Sport badges around as well, pro­claim­ing it to be a com­peti­tor for the BMW3 Se­ries M Sport and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMG Line. And in­ter­est­ingly, it man­ages to look bet­ter than ei­ther of th­ese Ger­man ri­vals, which in it­self is a big shift for Lexus. he F Sport touches are car­ried for­ward to the cabin as well, again with nods to the halo su­per­car, seen in the dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter that fea­tures a thin film tran­sis­tor dis­play that moves to the left and right to­gether with a find­ing the per­fect seat­ing po­si­tion has never been eas­ier in any other car I’ve driven, and de­spite the fact that you sit pretty low, there are vir­tu­ally no blind spots, thanks to the thin pil­lars and lower belt­line.

Un­like in ear­lier Lexuses, there aren’t too many Toy­ota but­tons and knobs spoil­ing the up­mar­ket aura and the touch con­trols for the AC are very re­spon­sive.

Thank­fully, there’s more to the F Sport than th­ese cos­metic changes. The sus­pen­sion has also been tweaked for sportier han­dling. The shock ab­sorber set­tings are ad­justed de­pend­ing on the se­lected drive mode, the con­di­tion of the road sur­face, speed and driv­ing style. There are three drive modes to choose from: Nor­mal, Eco and Sport. While the first one is best suited for every­day com­mutes, strik­ing a bal­ance be­tween per­for­mance and ef­fi­ciency, the Eco mode ob­vi­ously mod­er­ates per­for­mance in favour of fuel econ­omy. Flick it into Sport, and apart from chang­ing the outer ring of the tachome­ter white and red, it ap­par­ently al­ters the trans­mis­sion’s shift points for faster ac­cel­er­a­tion when ex­it­ing cor­ners.

But de­spite Lexus’s claims, I found the six-speed auto ’box’s re­sponses a bit tardy com­pared to the 3 Se­ries’ eight-speed ZF, or the A4’s sev­en­speed dual clutch. In auto mode, it’s sim­ply not sharp enough to squeeze the best out of the 2.5-litre V6, which is sadly a carry-over from the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. The only way to get some fun out of this age­ing lump is to push the gear-shift knob to man­ual and shift your­self with the pad­dles. Still, don’t ex­pect the IS 250 to go like a rocket, as it sim­ply won’t with just 204bhp and 250Nm of torque at its dis­posal. The doc­tored sound­track doesn’t help ei­ther,

This Lexus IS 250 Sport is a proper driver’s car, and ca­pa­ble of giv­ing its ri­vals a real run for their­money

ut what’s com­pro­mised in terms of the en­gine and trans­mis­sion is am­ply com­pen­sated for in its han­dling. The elec­tric steer­ing is one of the sharpest in any sa­loon, and of­fers as much di­rect­ness, pre­dictabil­ity and feed­back as a 3 Se­ries or an ATS. Add to this brakes with lin­ear stop­ping power and the stiffer F Sport-tuned sus­pen­sion, and this lit­tle Lexus is a proper driver’s car, and is ca­pa­ble of giv­ing its ri­vals a run for their money.

The IS 250 F Sport does what it’s sup­posed to do; stops just short of be­ing a full-on sports sa­loon, which will be a job left to the IS F. But for some­one look­ing for a small, tightly built sa­loon that can be an easy daily driver and at the same time of­fer enough fun when called for, the IS 250 F Sport is a com­pelling choice. Too bad it’s so ex­pen­sive.

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