Brighter spark

The hy­brid’s no longer bor­ing — the IS adds a green con­science to sports sedan dy­nam­ics

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - COVER STORY -

same vari­ants are $65,000, $73,000 and $84,000.

The star car is the Hy­brid, the Lux­ury grade at $58,900 (be­low the egre­gious lux­ury car tax) and F Sport at $67,900.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the pre­mium charged for the hy­brid is less than the usual slug for a diesel over a base petrol car.

The stick­ers look hand­some next to the Ger­man sedan ri­vals, the only real com­pe­ti­tion, but Lexus no longer leads the value race by day­light. Benz’s new CLA up­sets the ap­ple cart by com­ing in cheek­ily un­der $50K. Even so, the ba­sic IS is bet­ter than hand­somely en­dowed. The most glar­ing in­stance is sat­nav, still op­tional in base ex­ec­u­tive cars from Ger­many (or South Africa in BMW’s case) but stan­dard in IS 250, 300h and 350. And the Lexus sat­nav has an in­te­grated map and info sys­tem with live traf­fic up­dates, ac­ti­vated by touch via a new seven-inch screen now mounted high in the dash.

Wheels are 17-inch­ers on the Hy­brid, 18s on the oth­ers. No low-rent look­ing 16s for what will be in many cases a first foray into pres­tige car ter­rain.

TECH­NOL­OGY

A mere 113 grams of CO per kilo­me­tre — that’s the fig­ure Lexus ex­pounds into the ground with the IS. That mi­nus­cule num­ber is a con­sid­er­able mar­gin be­neath those achieved by the best turbo diesels of the op­po­si­tion and not far north of Lexus’s own CT200h, its take on Toy­ota’s Prius.

The IS hy­brid’s fuel fig­ure isn’t so em­phatic. Audi and BMW con­tes­tants un­der­cut it and the next C-Class diesel due in 2014 no doubt will. But then none of them have a lard-arse 1720kg to haul, a kerb weight al­most 300kg greater than the 320d. So, if the 113 is a magic num­ber, it’s also hard-won.

Viewed as whole, the IS range is an odd jux­ta­pos­tion of tech­ni­cal as­pi­ra­tion and stag­na­tion, not least be­cause the two con­ven­tional mem­bers of the IS range spew out dou­ble the CO and drink twice as much juice.

The IS 250 and 350 carry over en­gines from the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion IS. Next to Ger­many’s now stan­dard turbo sixes and even fours, th­ese old free-breath­ing V6s from Toy­ota re­tain the pre­vi­ous mod­els’ out­puts but with greater thirst. That’s al­most tol­er­a­ble for the 350, which is all about hav­ing a blast, but al­most any turbo four makes the 250 look down­right silly.

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