It’s 30 years since the Lexus brand first appeared in Australia and in 2017 the range is headed up by impressive models like the IS 200t.
Boasting the latest Lexus styling, which is a far cry from the earlier ‘boxy’ Lexus cars, the current-series IS rivals any of its mid-size premium competitors in the looks department.
Quite bold at the front, especially with its slanted headlights and recessed duct-like fog lights, the styling lines carry well through the rest of the car and the wheel arches and wide track make for a sharp, intimidating stance.
Under the bonnet is a reasonably new addition to the Lexus family – a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine.
Bringing with it power and torque figures of 180kW/350Nm, the engine propels the Lexus sedan to 100km/h in a very respectable 8.3 seconds.
You also have the ability to alter the feel and performance of the engine, and overall suspension/steering feel, through the switchable drive modes.
Normal, Eco and Sport are available and the system provides plenty of variation between sedate and sporty.
Underneath the skin, you will find a platform equipped with double wishbone rear suspension, and a damping system that helps reduce vibration without sacrificing the rigidity of the body.
The resulting ride comfort is high, even on large diameter 18” alloy wheels.
Outside the city, I subjected the IS 200t to some spirited driving on both highways and country roads.
Lexus has done a great job tuning the chassis to provide excellent stability and agility, the ride feels sporty, but not to the point where you would consider it uncomfortable.
Because of its relatively low centre of gravity, it delivers good handling characteristics, as well as a fun, driver-oriented experience.
The inside of the 2017 Lexus IS doesn’t disappoint either, even in base-model ‘Luxury’ trim.
The interior is top notch with leather-wrapped seats that offer a good driving position and a well balanced steering wheel, which is as nice to hold as it looks.
The premium audio and navigation system also delivers great sound and easy-to-navigate menus through a controller mounted on the centre console.
Fire up the car with the push-button start and you won’t hear much.
The engine being surprisingly muted – that is until you tickle the pedal lightly, then the car springs into life.
Naturally, as you would expect, the standard package is extensive and includes:
- Power adjustable steering column
- Reverse camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Distance control cruise control
- DVD player
- Electrically adjustable/heated front seats
- Digital radio
While the designers have managed to add in a selection of well-sized storage areas as well as first class head, leg and shoulder space front and rear.
Safety is covered by a full five-star ANCAP safety rating across the 2017 Lexus IS range and Lexus charges an additional $1,500 for metallic paint – though there are some basic metallic colours available at no extra charge.
For those seeking a luxury car with a well-placed price tag, it should be high on the shopping list.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2017 Lexus IS 200t
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo-petrol producing 180kW and 350Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Price: from $58,880