Lexus IS200 car review by Jason Dawe

26 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Lexus IS200 car review by Jason Dawe

Between them it’s taken BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar over two hundred years to become established prestige car brands. Lexus have achieved a similar task in less than 14 years.

Created not by a passionate entrepreneur or visionary engineer, Lexus was the brain child of a corporate marketing department. The objective was clear, to create a brand that allowed Toyota to sell re-badged cars for prestige car money.

Today not only can Lexus charge prestige money for its cars when new but they also command prestige money when they’re second hand. And the best of the bunch is also the smallest, the Lexus IS range.

Introduced into the UK in March 1999 it immediately won fans from BMW and Mercedes with its generous equipment levels. The entry level ‘S’ model offered automatic climate control, alloy wheels, traction control, retractable door mirrors, front and side airbags and 6 disc CD player. Stepping up to the SE and you added an electric sunroof, leather/suede upholstery and larger 17 inch alloys.

Lexus also offered a Sport model, easily identified by the darker tint to the rear windows, but offering no more performance than its cheaper brothers, all cars were powered by a smooth 2.0 litre, 6-cyliner producing a hardly sporty 153bhp.

To transfer that power to the rear wheels you can choose either a 6 speed manual or 4 speed automatic gearbox. Fans of automatic transmission may be disappointed, with only four ratios to choose from the gear box is easily caught out leaving the driver marooned in a flat spot, absent of power. In contrast the manual gearbox is a gem with a short slick change encouraging the use of all six speeds and helping the car to an average of 30 mpg.

In August 2001 Lexus introduced the IS300 with a 3 litre 24 valve unit producing a very reasonable 211bhp. But at nearly Ј5,000 more than an equivalent 2.0 SE the IS300 has sold in pretty low numbers and used examples are both difficult and expensive to find.

Compared with other cars in this segment like the BMW 3 series, Jaguar X-Type and Mercedes Benz C-class, the dashboard of the Lexus IS is quite radical, the inter linking dials are more akin to a divers watch face than an executive saloon, but in use they are easy to read and interesting to look at. The rest of the dash is well finished if a little plastic. Front seats are supportive and well shapes, with the IS300 gaining electric adjustment.

Rear legroom is on a par with the best in class and the boot is also usefully large.

Lexus offer the option of Satellite Navigation on all IS models, costing over Ј2,000 when new, used car buyers will only have to pay about Ј400 extra. And for that money you get one of the clearest, simplest and most effective systems available.

The Lexus brand prides itself on the reliability of their cars and the IS has fulfilled this promise, consistently performing well in customer satisfaction and reliability surveys. Servicing from the UK network of 57 dealers is once a year or every 10,000miles which ever is sooner, with major services due every second year.

Check the following

Climate control – standard on all cars, must blow icy cold

Manual 6-speed gear box an absolute gem, but 4 speed auto fails to impress

Alloy wheels – 17 inch on all but base model 2.0 S

Brakes – discs front and rear, ABS and traction control also standard

Rear windows – darker ‘privacy’ glass on Sport and IS300 models

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