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The new Lexus IS bringing sexy back


LEXUS has been trying to tackle the luxury market for quite some time now and it finally looks and definitely feels like the IS 350 has what it takes to do it.

The Toyota brand, which Lexus is part of, seems to have gotten its ‘mojo’ back, particularly in the design department after years of dully styled cars.

Thankfully the all-new IS will make your eyes water, because it is a thing of beauty. It’s flashy yet understated with some rather sharp lines, particularly at the front end, which has to be the most attractive fascia I’ve ever seen.

Admittedly, I wasn’t blown away at the launch by the new offering. However, after spending a week with this well-dressed Japanese machine, it became a challenge returning it.

Why? Well, the IS is just so easy to live with. Okay, besides looking dashing in the F Sport attire - which adds an exclusive grille and front-bumper design to the car - it also gets a bigger set of wheels (18 inches) that features a Y-spoke design, which points to the LFA bloodline.

The IS is insanely comfortable to drive. The driving position is aggressive yet relaxed with a well-laid-out cabin. Everything is within easy reach and even easier to operate. The familiar user interface means the driver and passenger can navigate and interact with the vehicle’s HMI systems hassle-free while the instrument cluster displays all the vitals at a glance.

Probably the most alluring part of this vehicle, besides the supercomfortable seats - which I was tempted to remove and put in my lounge - is the long list of standard features, which will surely make some of Lexus’ competitors shed a tear. The list includes two USB ports (some German luxury brands don’t even offer this), heated seats and navigation, among a whole lot more.

Taken to the streets, the Lexus continued its slick manners thanks to its superb handling characteristics, even when dialling the car to Sport mode. Thankfully though, it does have some hooligan tendencies that allow you to throw the rear out and really get moving, should you want to.

The massive 3.5-litre V6 engine offers 228kW of power and stomping your foot on the gas pedal will hurl the car from zero to 100km/h in a claimed 5.9 seconds while the smooth eight-speed Sport Direct Shift auto transmission allows you to seamlessly work your way through the gears on to a limited top speed of 225km/h.

Lexus South Africa has currently no plans to introduce other IS models locally. But with a car this good that is this competitively priced at R553 900, do they really need to?
The only things that really bugged me were the passenger door that didn’t automatically unlock from the inside when you pulled the handle, as well as the fact that this is one thirsty brute. Yes, Lexus might claim a combined fuel consumption of 9.7 litres/100km, but I could only muster up a scary 14.6 litres/100km, while driving this car like no car of this ilk should be driven: gingerly and in Eco mode.

If you can get over the fact that you’ll have a rather hefty fuel bill each month (because no other engine option is available), then I would consider the new IS.

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