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