“That’s not a hybrid,” exclaimed my 17 year old son. “It’s too beasty.”
Clearly he’s used to more nerdy interpretations of green transport, but yes I assured him, with recorded efficiency at just under five litres per 100 kilometres and CO2 emissions of just 113 grams per kilometre, it is indeed the most fuel efficient macho-machine I’ve ever driven.
Admittedly I was driving the F Sport version which, in addition to the aggressive styling, provides the Sport S+ drive option, which varies the mix of petrol and electric power to provide extra grunt. That happens at the expense of fuel efficiency of course – but then there’s an Eco mode too. The F Sport also include Adaptive Variable Suspension, a kind of modern version of adding springs to your trolley, stiffening up to provide that ‘hard’ feel of a sports car or softening for when you’ve got your mother-in-law in the boot.
Lexus is pinning a lot on this new IS range, which hitherto did not include Lexus’ pioneering hybrid technology. According the press blurb they’ve done a record 1.6 million kilometres of testing and have revisited all the design elements with the driving experience at the centre. The F Sport in particular borrows a lot from Lexus’ LFA supercar. I drove the 300h, which has a 2.5 litre petrol engine. The 250h and the 350h share a 3.5 litre V6 engine.
So how did it drive? Well, I’m used to driving a people mover and an SUV so the racing style bucket seats made me feel like I was driving a lay-z-boy recliner. That could be just me. I also found it responsive, quick and super sticky on the wet tarmac despite my best efforts to defy the anti-skid technology. I love the front grill and overall styling quickens the blood.
The real test however was my car-nut colleagues. Standing at the windows admiring my new beast they proposed to steal my keys or bribe me with offers of various pleasures, just to test it for the weekend. I manfully resisted. Lexus’ inspires something in the autophile. I suspect it’s the idea that the Japanese, so renowned for their performance and reliability, have with Lexus also cracked the premium marque. Style and substance. What’s there not to like?