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Lexus IS300h F Sport review

Date: 14 February 2017   |   Author: John Mahoney

Standard equipment: 18in alloys (F Sport and above), sports steering wheel (F Sport and above), sport seats (Premier and above), adaptive dampers (Premier and above), premium sound system (Premier and above), blind-spot protection/cross-traffic alert (Premier and above)
Engines: Petrol: 223hp 2.5 hybrid, 241hp 2.0T
Trims: SE, Executive Edition, Sport, Advance, Luxury, F Sport, Premier
Transmissions: 8-speed CVT automatic

Lexus's IS compact exec has never succeeded in threatening the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but despite selling in limited numbers the car has remained, over the past 18 years and three generations, a smart, stylish, well-finished saloon that's a breath of fresh air beside its rivals.

In the flesh, it's hard to imagine why the IS has been so neglected; even three years into the current model's life its design still feels fresh. It's no surprise then, for its mid-life makeover, the car only gets the lightest of nip and tucks.

Step inside and the classy, minimalistic cabin continues to impress, with improved materials, a larger 10.3-inch infotainment system and a revised user interface.

Most of the changes have taken place beneath the skin, with engineers giving the revamped IS a comprehensively reworked suspension that's claimed to improve the ride, handling, straight-line stability and steering feel.

 Screen Shot 2017-02-10 At 18.21.59

Two engine choices

There are just two engines on offer: a 241hp 2.0-litre turbo (IS200t) and a far more efficient 2.5-litre hybrid that produces a punchy 223hp (IS300h).

On paper at least, it's the latter that makes the most sense for fleets, thanks to its electrically-assisted powertrain. The most efficient version can average 67.3mpg (on 16-inch wheels) and emits just 97g/km of CO2.

For fit and finish, the IS remains top notch overall and the range-topping F Sport's new sport seats are comfortable and supportive too. It's just a shame that the mouse-like controller for the updated infotainment system is as awkward to use as before.

Driving impressions

On the move, the steering has noticeably improved over the previous iteration and Lexus has narrowed the gap between it and the BMW 3 Series for driving involvement.

Despite claims of best-in-class refinement, the Lexus allows a little too much wind and road noise into the cabin and, despite those suspension upgrades, the ride remains on the firm side.

IS Side

BMW and Mercedes have now recently introduced their own hybrid versions of the 3 Series and C-Class and unlike the Lexus they rely on plug-in technology that allows a pure-electric range of around 30 miles - enough for most short commutes.

This means, in terms of official figures, they beat the IS for both emissions and fuel consumption hands-down.

They're both better to drive than the Lexus too and have traditional automatic gearboxes, rather than the artificial-feeling CVT that IS300h drivers have to endure.

It's a shame because post-facelift, the IS is more visually attractive than the predictable Germans, but it just doesn't make much financial sense for businesses.

IS Rear

Lexus IS300h F Sport

P11D £35,440
On sale March 2017
Residual value 30.0%
Depreciation £24,815
Fuel £5,207
Service, maintenance & repair £2,556
Cost per mile 75.3p
Fuel consumption 61.4mpg
CO2 (BIK band) 107g/km (18%)
BIK 20/40% per month £106/£213
Boot space 450 litres
Engine size/power 2,494cc/223hp


  • Refinement
  • Cabin
  • Exclusivity
  • Low BIK tax bill compared with diesel
  • Concerns over real-world economy
  • German rivals better to drive and cheaper to run
  • Artificial CVT transmission