With the current fuel-price increase in South Africa and global warming, some carbon-conscious consumers agree that hybrids are a somehow slow step into contributing to saving the planet. So with their aim of reducing their carbon footprint, Toyota, or should I say Lexus decided to only offer the new IS range in hybrid here, I spent time with the range-topping model IS300h F-sport to see What it has to offer compared to its non-hybrid rivals such as the Audi A4, Mercedes C-Class, Jaguar XE and the BMW 3series.
Model: Lexus IS300h F-Sport
Engine: 2.5- Litre Four-cylinder petrol Hybrid
Transmission: Continuously variable Transmission (CVT)
Power: 164 kW & 221 Nm (combined)
Top-speed: 200 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 5.2L/100km (claimed)
Luggage Capacity: 450 Litres (claimed)
Price: R 916 100
Exterior and Design
Reimagined, the new Lexus IS300 range is wider and longer than its predecessor. It also receives sharper styling tweaks adding a muscular/sporty stance to the car.
The update includes a sleek and aggressive front-end with the redesigned front bumper and grille with LED headlight with DRLs (Day Time Running Lights) incorporated, complimented with sporty lower side skirt along with body-line curve flowing to the rear wheel arches, Lexus didn’t just stop there, the rear also receives a makeover with a seamless light bar, joining the rear taillights and spicing up the look, especially at night. Making it the best-looking sports executive sedan in the segment.
The F-sport rides on 19-inch silver alloy wheels, while the EX and SE model comes fitted with !8-inch alloy wheels.
Interior and Tech
The interior of the IS300h looks and feels very premium but also at the same time gives mixed feelings. classy and neat, the flare red leather sure makes the interior stand out and projects a luxurious feel. The center console on the other hand lives apart from the rest of the cabin, with old-schools buttons and if you pay close attention, you will see a CD player. Old right? Also, the track-pad which many users have complained about not being user-friendly and requires quite a lot of patience to get used to.
On the tech side, the IS300 boasts a 10.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system display, compatible with apple car play and Android Auto, An electric-adjustable multi-function steering wheel with paddle shifters and mounted controls for the audio, phone, and voice command. And other features such as; Dual-climate control, adaptive cruise control with steering assist, as well as a 17-speaker Mark Levison Audio system(offering a very good sound quality) all fitted as standard in the F-sport model.
The cabin feels pretty spacious, with comfortable and supportive electric (heated, cooled, and adjustable) front driver and passenger seats. Jumping at the back, you have to be quite careful with your head, as the roof slope is quite low and you might knock your head into it. Rear passengers will also enjoy comfortable space with a slight headroom challenge for taller passengers (over 1.80m), they will also benefit from two-air vents but no USB port or 12V power socket, with the middle seat legroom being quite limited, due to the raised transmission tunnel bulge.
Lexus claims a luggage capacity of 450 liters, Fairly spacious, and can be extended by folding the rear seats to a 60:40 split configuration for long items storage. additional USB ports/wireless charging pad and maybe a Heads up display could be very interesting to have.
When it comes to safety, the IS300 range comes fitted with a total of 10 airbags, ESP, ABS, EBD with brake assist, and ESC with traction control. Including other driver aids such as blind-spot monitoring system, front, and rear park assist with 360º view camera, rear cross-traffic alert, preclusion warning, and lane-keep assist.
Under the bonnet hides a 2.5- liter 4-cylinder petrol engine, complemented with an electric motor that delivers a combined power output of 164 kW and 221Nm of torque. All the power is sent to the rear wheels through a 7-step continuously variable transmission (CVT). The engine and transmission combination is faultless, at the same time feels tamed/dull compared to its other rivals. The CVT transmission drowning noise tends to get louder during hard acceleration and does not offer very engaging feedback as you would expect from a Sports Car.
The IS300h boasts an energy recovery feature (meaning the batteries recharges while braking or coasting) it also features 5 driving modes (Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport S+, and Custom ) not a massively noticeable difference between the Sport modes in terms of power delivery, besides a more responsive/sharper steering feedback feel.
While it does not offer an exhilarating driving experience as its non-hybrid competitors, The Lexus IS300h F-sport’s power delivery feels linear and offers a refined ride quality, thanks to the updated (AVS) Adaptive variable suspension that ultimately absorbs road imperfection smoothly.
After having fully charged the batteries, and limiting my speed to under 50/km it only took the IS300h about 2.5km to drop the towel and flash a low batteries notification on the cluster. The EV-only mode is only suitable for low-speed maneuvers, like parking/reversing before the engine kicks in. After having driven both short-distance and long-distance. I was have surprised to manage average fuel consumption of 7.8 L/100 km over the claimed 5.2L, which is not really as fuel-efficient as I hoped compared to its non-hybrid rivals.
Pricing and After-sales
Offered in 3 derivatives, the Lexus IS300h range is priced as follows
Lexus IS300h EX R 841 800
Lexus IS300h SE R 899 800
Lexus IS300h F-Sport R 916 100
All prices include an excellent 7-year/105 000 km warranty along with a maintenance plan.
The Lexus IS300h combines luxury, hybrid performance, and comfort but somehow lacks the thrilling dynamic of a full-on sports car. it is very attractive and worth considering for those who care more about the looks, comfort, and relaxed driving, than the punchy engine with bubbly exhaust sound.