The latest Lexus IS can come with a choice of two engines, the 2.5-litre (204bhp) V6 petrol or the 2.2-litre (175bhp) turbodiesel. The 2.5-litre petrol is hushed and quick, featuring an automatic gearbox that suits it to perfection. The 2.2-litre turbodiesel is smooth and refined.
The steering is slightly too unresponsive to allow for enjoyable driving but the IS grips the road superbly and corners like a dream. The new electric power-system is very good but the impressive control that is gained is lost in a feeling of stiffness.
The cabin does not match up to the 3 Series or the A4 but you cannot deny that it is either well put together or that good quality materials have been used. You will find that Lexus is one of the very best brand names in terms of reliability and customer satisfaction.
Lexus demonstrated to Euro NCAP that the knee airbags protected the front seat passengers' knees and femurs from injury in a wide range of seating positions. However, the brake pedal moved rearward by more than 100mm, posing some threat to the lower legs. In Euro NCAP safety tests, the Lexus IS was awarded the maximum five stars for adult occupation, four star for child occupation and two stars for pedestrian protection. The Lexus IS scored maximum points for its performance in the side impact and pole tests. Eight airbags come as standard plus traction control, anti-lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution.
Driver and passenger in the front of the IS will find room aplenty but taller passengers in the rear seats will have to adopt some strange positions in order to accommodate their legs. The boot is disappointingly small bit is at least practical.
One area where the IS does well is in its insurance group which should be lower than most of its rivals. The IS is also priced well and this is where it will find its competitive edge. High CO2 emissions may deter many company car drivers plus the residual values do not hold up when compared to BMW and Mercedes-Benz.