Over one million Lexus IS models have now been sold globally, helping Lexus to grow locally; last year was a record with 720 new vehicles retailed.
The IS range is six-strong in New Zealand, half of which comprise IS 200t versions. The line-up has recently been refreshed inside and out. New for 2017 are subtle exterior updates both ends (fresh headlights, bumper, air dam spindle grille and angular exhaust outlets) which give the IS a more focused look. On the safety front, all models now get a pre-crash safety system, active cruise, lane departure warning and keeping, trailer sway warning and a setting that dips the headlights automatically. And on those, the entire IS range now comes with LED headlights, dual beam offerings in some, while others, like the model pictured here, have three-lens units.
We recently got to sample the F Sport version, which is midrange of the 200T trio, costing $84,900, $10,600 more than the base IS 200t. There has been no change to the powertrain, the 2.0-litre dual-injection turbo four still churning out 180kW, and 350Nm from 1650rpm. Output is processed by an eight-speed auto. Given the beans, it gets to 100 in 7sec, and completes an overtake in 4.5sec, both of which are competitive.
Underneath, the engineers have fiddled with spring and damper rates, though F-Sport gets adaptive damping. Still, the ride and handling mix is pleasant. The weight split isn’t quite even, and there’s a touch too much overall, but this still proved handy up our reference hill. Through one of the most demanding corners the suspension simply absorbed the central dip and the IS maintained a line as if the rut wasn’t even there; it’s a rigid platform this. When we last drove it the Turanzas proved quiet overall but this time we noticed more roar, the SPL level at times in excess of 75dB. Guess we drove it on different roads.
On the other hand, the motor is all but inaudible which is bit of a trick for a 2.0 turbo. This one we’d still rate as about average though; there’s decent torque on hand early at town speeds but in faster going you need at least moderate revs for performance that befits the dynamics of the car. It goes pretty well from 3500-4500rpm but there’s some lag off the mark, fuel use averages around 11 rather than the quoted 7.5, and it disappoints in Sport modes because it just isn’t quite raw enough and the TC keeps spoiling the fun. It’s not really in the spirit of F Sport exactly; this feels more like F Luxury overall, though the reshaped sports seats work well.
An added return button doesn’t make the Lexus mouse work any easier in use but the larger 10-inch touchscreen is appreciated. You want for little in terms of comfort, convenience and safety items which is in contrast to the German opposition where some items are cost options. This even has seat ventilation. However, we’d certainly eyeball the $10k less expensive base IS200t; you get the same powertrain, and the same good safety and general spec, just not the sporty baubles.
|Model||Lexus IS 200t F Sport||Price||$84,900|
|Engine||1998cc, IL4, DI/T 180kW/350Nm||Drivetrain||8-speed auto, rear-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||7.5L/100km||C02 Output||175g/km|