It’s always good to put a car through its paces in everyday situations that we’re all likely to use it for and what better way to do this than spend a weekend with it. So last weekend’s test car was the Lexus IS, one of the most successful models from the Japanese manufacturer and now has a new engine added to the lineup, the 2.0-litre turbo petrol 200t now sitting alongside their full hybrid version, the 300h.
Everything apart from the kitchen sink
The Easter holidays usually mean a trip away for most families so I decided to join the motorway queues and head North.
As a mother of an eleven month old you rarely travel light and the first test was trying to fit everything in the boot but the IS seems to have a very deep one. It got filled up with plenty of baby related gear: a suitcase, walker, travel bag, nappies, the world’s most awkward pushchair, my suitcase and a few toys (for him). Quite surprisingly everything went in with enough room for more. The only problem though was that the roof of the boot has a slight lip so stops some items from going in flat - a fight with the baby walker to squash it in.
Putting a belted child seat into the rear of the IS is fairly easy too, there is plenty of space between the back of the front seat to easily manoeuvre it into position and there are ISOFIX points for those forward facing child seats.
A quick burst up the M6, thankfully the ‘Caution Queue Ahead’ sign never materialised, showed the IS is a comfortable motorway cruiser. The 2.0-litre turbocharged engine produces 241bhp with 350 Nm of torque and although it lacks that outright whack of power when you put your foot down, the eight-speed automatic transmission is seamless as you get up to speed.
With regards to fuel efficiency it wasn’t as good as I was expecting when Lexus claim it can achieve combined mpg figures in the late thirties and I only managed 26.9 it was slightly disappointing. That’s BMW M4 consumption...
The horror of nine hour jams abounded on the motorways upon my return and the M6 did have some of those but it’s not a bad thing to be sat in this car as it’s extremely comfortable with electronically adjustable sport seats that provide plenty of lumbar support. Summer hasn’t hit yet but there are ventilated front seats and for chilly days, heated ones.
An optional Mark Levinson sound system provided plenty of great sound, ideal when you’re hoovering up the miles and releasing your inner Beyonce whilst at the wheel. The car soundtrack had my son asleep on any journey in the car. Win.
Over twenty years ago I was introduced to the Lexus brand by my late grandfather, he loved them so much he went through ownership of most of their lineup but my grandmother, whom I visited over Easter, had many fond memories of the original LS400 as she took a ride in the smaller IS saloon.
She found it still had the comfort and luxury that she’d always expected, although that despite its technology, which might attract younger people, she thinks it’s still favoured by the older generation. Interesting to hear that view point when I am starting to think the opposite about how appealing the IS is as a proposition.
There is plenty of technology in the IS; the Remote Touch control system navigates your way around the 7-inch centre display screen, it’s easy to use and the LFA-inspired drivers digital display panel really is the bees-knees as at the press of a button on the steering wheel the dial slides across to show mpg, media, navigation and car settings. You can’t help but keeping slide it back and forth like a big kid.
Park and ride
A trip to the supermarket had to be done to test how easy it is to park (I may have cheated by placing it in a mother and baby space) but the light steering makes it easily manoeuvrable while the addition of the parking assist system using a rear-view camera comes up on the display screen with a guide monitor to help - which do look like a digital game of pick up sticks - getting you in and out of spaces easily.
As much as I really liked the practicality and comfort of the IS and the optional Azure Blue colour scheme, the red leather interior really was the biggest negative with it; it just looked a bit brash. That aside, it really is a good alternative to the usual German offerings, the Lexus IS 200t is priced from £31,495.