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Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5
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PROS

  • Hybrid powertrain means low running costs
  • Quiet and refined drive
  • Different from the norm

CONS

  • Petrol engine not very efficient
  • Poor performance
  • Doesn’t handle as well as rivals

Verdict

The new Lexus IS is a redesigned third version of the firm’s BMW 3 Series rival.

Happily, the previously nondescript IS has been given a radical new look based on the LF-CC concept shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2012.

Although there’s a choice of four trims as well as a pair of engines, the real sweet spot in the range is the IS 300h F Sport thanks to its blend of equipment, good looks and better handling.

The IS as a whole doesn’t quite pass muster as a true equal to the likes of the excellent BMW 3 Series, however. It’s probably a closer rival to the Mazda6 or the Volkswagen Passat.

Bigger and more luxurious

The dimensions of the new car offer an increase in cabin size, with a wider stance and a longer wheelbase providing more rear legroom as well as increased luggage space compare to the out-going model.

Most models get 60:40 folding rear seats as well as a driver’s seat offering better support and a more comfortable driving position than previous models. You sit lower in the cabin and grip a steering wheel inspired by the LFA supercar too.

Inside, the interior design uses high-tech display equipment and new materials which are a step-up in terms of quality. There are touch-sensitive switches for the air conditioning requiring only the lightest brush of a finger to operate.

Extremely low running costs

The previous version of the IS was a credible yet often over-looked competitor to the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. It had plenty of high tech standard kit and a range of efficient engines which allowed relatively low-cost motoring. CO2 emissions weren’t quite as good as the competition’s, though, which meant fleet drivers looked the other way and so you just don’t see too many of them on the road.

This version, however, gets the option of a hybrid petrol/electric powertrain with seriously impressive CO2 figures. It’s going to appeal to private buyers thanks to high fuel economy, while company car drivers are going to applaud the lower Benefit-in-Kind taxation offered by a petrol car emitting just 99g/km (in SE trim).

Great ownership experience

The ownership experience is likely to be fairly flawless. Lexus scores incredibly highly in customer satisfaction surveys and its dealerships are known for good service.

It’ll be reliable, too. Lexus is effectively the luxury arm of Toyota, which means you get typical Japanese build quality that should last the length of your ownership period.

For a comprehensive look at this clever new car, read on for our full Lexus IS review.

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