IS 250 F-Sport Automatic
some will find it bland and
lacking in image and boy/girl racers
will go for street-cred BMWs and
Audis, the Lexus IS 250 F-Sport is
classy, beautifully made and refined
in all areas a hidden gem...
CONSIDERING A PREMIUM BRAND, sporty four- door saloon? The most logical choice
might be the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and perhaps
the Jaguar XF or even the award-winning Volvo S60.
But there is another option for buyers wanting something different that doesn't
suggest they are driving a volume-selling company car. The Lexus IS range of
four-door, five-seater saloons and the two-door, four-seater IS convertible
are all perfectly good alternatives.
Likely to appeal more to retail customers and business user-choosers, the IS
models might be Lexus's top-selling sports models, especially the saloon, but
they are relatively rare on UK roads. All are beautifully if conservatively
styled, the quality is superb, the standard equipment levels are very high and
the exclusivity is appealing.
The IS sports saloon was first introduced in 1999 and the second generation
came along in November 2005. Now, the latest 2011 changes have reached the UK
market. Joining the line-up is the IS 200d (2.2-litre four-cylinder) 148bhp
diesel version. The 2.5-litre, 205bhp, V6 petrol IS 250 models have the latest
Euro 5 emission engine and a six-speed automatic transmission as standard. Also
joining the IS saloon range as well are the F-Sport specification models, offering
the choice of both engine options. Depending on which engine is chosen, specification
levels are SE, SE-I and SE-L.
addition, if you fancy more muscle, the IS saloon is available with a 5.0-litre,
417bhp V8 petrol engine. All IS convertibles, incidentally, use the 2.5-litre
V6 petrol engine.
IS models might be
especially the saloon,
but they are relatively
rare on UK roads...
Prices for the mainstay IS 250 saloons range from £25,620 to £30,485
the V8 costs £56,540. Diesel IS 200d versions are priced between £24,350 and
£29,975. IS 250 convertibles range from £35,630 to £44,520.
My test model was the £29,700 IS 250 F-Sport automatic which, for retail and
business user-chooser customers, is the pick of the bunch. High-mileage fleet
and company car drivers will, quite likely, find themselves behind the wheel
of the diesel.
The IS is marked out by the design language that has shaped the appearance of
the current generation of Lexus models: sweeping coachwork lines of contrasting
convex and concave surfaces flow into a signature arrowhead shape. Although
a four-door saloon, the IS has that increasingly popular 'coupe side silhouette'
and coupled with its wide and low stance it looks every bit a sporting saloon.
In addition, the F-Sport model has a lowered suspension for enhanced handling
and reduced air-drag. High speed stability and low wind noise levels are aided
by the deep front spoiler and side skirts, while beneath the vehicle front and
rear tyre fairings and covers to the cabin floor, transmission, fuel tank and
rear suspension create the smoothest and flattest surface possible.
The engine undercover is designed to create a venturi effect, which generates
downforce for a zero lift coefficient at high speeds. A rear floor diffuser
with twin vertical fins is also fitted, like a racing car undertray, to reduce
the rear lift coefficient and bolster high speed handling stability.
The IS is relatively compact in length (4,585mm) but it is 175mm longer and
75mm wider than its predecessor. The track widths are increased by 40 and 50mm
front and rear respectively. For driver and passengers, this translates into
greater front and rear leg and shoulder room, and improves the handling qualities.
has focused on delivering class-leading low noise intrusion with the use of
the world's first sound-absorbing sun visors, acoustic glass in the front screen
and exceptionally close panel fit.
the IS might be but it is
a very good example
of what Lexus
does best quality
Under the skin, detailed work has taken place to refine the engine and transmission
installation and improve the suspension location bushes to further minimise
road noise intrusion and limit any running gear vibrations. A compact saloon
the IS might be, but it has the composure and silky smooth, low noise ride of
a much larger executive car. It is a very good example of what Lexus does best
quality and refinement.
Inside it is the same story. Build quality and perceived quality are of the
highest order throughout, with attention to detail witnessed by the careful
matching of wood trim sections, 'invisible' seam stitching on leather upholstery
and improved fit and finish that reduce gaps to new low levels and eradicates
As standard the IS is fitted with eight airbags, 6-CD autochanger with eight
speakers (upgraded to 13 speakers for the F-Sport), keyless entry and push-button
start, climate control A/C, electrically-operated windows and mirrors, alloy
wheels and front and rear armrests. As you move up the range then the equipment
becomes even more comprehensive and includes larger wheels, parking sensors,
Bluetooth, heated front seats, leather upholstery, rain sensing wipers and cruise
The F-Sport version features an exclusive mesh front grille, rear bootlid spoiler,
scuff plates, unique 18-inch wheels, aluminium pedals, sports seats finished
in Alcantara with leather bolsters, titanium-effect interior trim details and
a leather-trimmed sport steering wheel. In addition, this model is also equipped
with HID headlights with LED daytime running lights. The interior is superb
and the quality of the sound system is amazing especially when you consider
this car costs a shade under £30k; it sounds a lot of money but in this class
Also of worthwhile note is the power unit which is a 2.5-litre, V6 petrol with
VVT-i variable valve timing and four valves per cylinder. It develops 205bhp
at 6,400rpm and 186lb ft of torque at 4,800rpm and delivers zero to 62mph in
8.5 seconds and a top speed of 141mph.
2011 model year changes to meet Euro 5 emissions standards have resulted in
lower CO2 figures and improved fuel economy but with no reduction
in performance. Combined cycle emissions fall from 209 to 194g/km, while the
official average fuel consumption has improved from 31.7 to 33.6mpg.
A real joy to drive
not as cut-and-thrust
as a similar
BMW or Audi, but just
In financial terms this now means a First Year rate road tax cost of £425 which
drops to £235 for the second year onwards and a BIK company car tax of 31%.
The insurance group rating is 29E.
In real life my test car returned 31.9mpg overall but on a motorway journey
at the legal limit it impressed with 36.4mpg. Mated to the standard fit, silky
smooth six-speed auto gearbox this six cylinder petrol unit is a real joy to
drive not as cut-and-thrust as a similar BMW or Audi, but just
plain nice. And it is not slow.
While it lacks the agility and sharp handling of a BMW 3 Series, this Lexus
does have many advantages. For quality, refinement and a considerable amount
of exclusivity, it is a desirable car. True, some will find it bland and lacking
in image and 'boy or girl racers' will go for street-cred BMW/Audi models, but
that is their loss. Classy, beautifully made, refined in all areas, the IS 250
F-Sport is a hidden gem. David Miles
Lexus IS 250 F-Sport Automatic |
Maximum speed: 141mph | 0-62mph: 8.5 seconds | Overall Test MPG:
Power: 205bhp | Torque: 186lb ft | CO2 194g/km