- Striking design
- Impressive petrol-hybrid engine
- Generous equipment
- Not as refined as some rivals
- No diesel option
- CVT gearbox is noisy at speed
Stylish, refined compact executive
The Lexus IS finds itself in one of the most highly contested markets. Up against best-sellers such as the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4, it takes a lot to stand out in this sector. First introduced in 1998, and now in its third generation, the Lexus IS is proudly different. Whereas the majority of the market focuses on diesel engines, the IS is exclusively petrol, and petrol-hybrid. This might disappoint some, but Lexus exhibits the very best in hybrid technology, so you’ll soon be converted. The IS is also comfortable, refined, and economical, and its striking good looks are sure to make you stand out from the crowd.
Unique cabin design and generous equipment
When you step into a Lexus IS, it’s hard not to be impressed by the contemporary design of the cabin. It might not be for everyone, but it’s undoubtedly unique. Quality is also excellent, whilst equipment is generous throughout the range.
The dashboard design of the IS is reflective of the striking aesthetics of the car’s exterior. Lexus have really gone to town here, and it’s far more interesting to look at than a BMW 3 Series or an Audi A4. Material quality is pretty impressive in the IS, with soft-touch materials adorning almost every area. It’s not quite as plush as its German rivals, but few will be disappointed. Controls are also well laid out, well-damped, and easy to use, and only add to the executive feel.
Space is also pretty impressive in the IS. The 480 litre boot capacity is standard for the class, and there’s more than enough room for a big family shop, a bulky buggy, or even a full set of golf clubs. Hybrid models get 30 litres less due to the battery taking up additional space, though it’s really a small price to pay for class-leading engine technology.
Equipment levels in the IS are generous no matter which trim you choose to go for. The entry-level SE trim comes with all the luxuries that you’re likely to need, with electric windows, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, DAB radio, a 7” colour display, and xenon headlights all featuring. Sport models add sat-nav, dynamic exterior additions, and heated leather seats.
All in all, the interior of the IS is without doubt impressive. It’s well-built, spacious, generously equipped, and there’s a genuine feeling of quality throughout. Few people will have complaints when they take a closer look at the Lexus IS.
Comfortable, refined, and entertaining
Compact executive saloons are getting better to drive by the day, and the Lexus IS is undoubtedly among the best in the class. The steering is sharp, whilst the chassis is fine tuned to reduce body roll, so you can confidently throw it into a fast country road corner with confidence. Even the heavier hybrid models are fun to drive, so even if you want to save the planet, there’s no compromise on fun. Sport models feature a stiffer suspension, which only adds to the IS’ driveability.
Suspension and Chassis
Ride refinement is also pretty impressive in the IS, despite the car's stiff suspension. Adaptive dampers help in ironing out rough road surfaces, potholes, and speed bumps, and the IS never feels uncomfortable. It’s not quite as smooth as an Audi A4, but it’s still a mightily refined ride. Wind noise is also well-contained, though cars equipped with the CVT automatic gearbox feature a fair bit of engine noise at speed, which make these models not the finest motorway cruisers.
Gearbox options in the IS come in two guises. There’s no manual transmission available with the IS, though that shouldn’t pose too much of an issue, as most executive car buyers favour automatics. Entry-level models come with a CVT style automatic, that’s fine at lower speeds, but revs the engine hard when you need a quick burst of acceleration. A more conventional 6-speed automatic is also available in the range, though it isn’t that much more impressive.
No diesel engines, but impressive petrol-hybrids are sure to be a hit
When it comes to deciding how you want to power your IS, you’ve got two options: petrol, or petrol-hybrid. It’s unusual for a car in this class not to include a diesel option, but the engines on offer are impressive enough to make you forget.
If it’s power that you want from your IS, the stand-out option in the IS range is the petrol-powered 200t Sport model. This engine produces 202bhp, and will accelerate from 0-62mph in just 7 seconds. It’s not the quickest compact executive saloon, but it’s quick enough to put a smile on most drivers faces. It is however, much more expensive to run than the hybrid model, which is only 1.4 seconds slower to 62mph.
Eco-friendly buyers will be delighted with the engine range in the IS. The most attractive option will undoubtedly be the 300h petrol-hybrid, as it produces just 97g/km of CO2 emissions. That’s exceptional for a car in this class, so not only will you feel good about yourself for saving the environment, you’ll also get free road tax. This makes the hybrid model an excellent choice for money-savers as well. With up to 67.3mpg on offer, it’s not only green, it’s efficient. You can save yourself plenty of money with this model, money you can put towards life’s other luxuries.
Whichever engine you choose to go for in your IS, you’re going to get enough power, solid fuel efficiency, and green CO2 emissions. The hybrid model is undoubtedly the pick of the bunch however, as it offers the best balance of the three.
Full marks in NCAP safety tests, with impressive standard safety kit
Like nearly every car in its class, the Lexus IS easily achieved the highest possible 5-star NCAP safety rating. With scores of 91% in adult safety, 85% in child safety, and 80% in pedestrian safety, the Lexus IS is amongst the safest cars in the compact executive class. This is in part due to the long list of standard safety features that the IS comes with. Even entry-level models feature eight airbags, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, and a tyre-pressure monitoring system. The optional Advanced Safety Pack adds a pre-crash safety system, lane departure assist, and adaptive cruise control.
Superb value for money, if you avoid the cost of new-car depreciation
The Lexus IS represents excellent value for money for buyers looking for a compact executive saloon. This obviously varies between model to model, but generally speaking CO2 emissions are low throughout the range, so road tax is either low-cost, or free, whilst fuel efficiency is impressive, even on the thirstiest petrol model. The IS is also cheaper to buy than its German rivals, and the hybrid version offers unbeatable day-to-day value.
Insurance groups for the IS also depend on which model you choose to go for. The range starts in group 31 for the entry-level 300h SE, and climb up towards group 38 if you’re tempted by the range-topping 200t F-Sport. Generally speaking, you won’t be paying any more than you would for an equivalent rival.
Depreciation is a large factor with the IS, but only if you choose to buy from new. With first year depreciation as high as 40%, you’re better off opting for an inspected used equivalent.
The Lexus IS is a great option for buyers who want a compact executive saloon that offers something different from the boring normality of the German offerings. The IS is stylish, features a plush interior, a fun driving experience, and an interesting range of engines. It might not offer diesel power, and the gearboxes aren’t the most refined, but if you really want to stand out from the crowd, the Lexus IS offers a great option that won’t compromise day-to-day refinement.
Buying a used Lexus IS online with Carspring
If you’re after a used Lexus IS for sale, it can all feel like a bit of an ordeal. What, with long days spent around gigantic car supermarkets, or time spent trawling through classified websites, looking for that ideal used IS. Carspring makes it simple. Buy your next used Lexus IS online with the touch of a button. Simply decide on the model you want and choose how you want to pay.
Looking to finance your used Lexus? Not a problem, we work with our carefully selected finance partners to ensure that, if you’re paying monthly for your used Lexus IS, you know you’re getting the best rates. What’s more, with any Carspring used IS, you also get our 14-day money-back guarantee and 6 months’ free Warranty. Plus, you don’t have to leave your home. We’ll deliver your used Lexus to you at a time and place of your choice.
*This is an approximate figure based on the range of the car’s list price and the AA’s average 1st-year depreciation cost of 40%.