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A refined and linear drivetrain pairs with exceptional ride quality to make the Lexus IS hybrid an appealing and astute choice.

22 Jan 2021


Unless you're planning on covering an astronomical number of miles, opting for the hybrid variant is rarely the de facto choice for shoppers in Singapore. However, things could be different with this hybrid Lexus IS.

You see, thanks in part to the new VES rebates, this new hybrid has become our first tested car this year to see its hybrid variant becoming the entry-point into the range. So, if you're looking at this Japanese compact executive sedan, which drivetrain should you opt for?

So many options…

The 2.5-litre hybrid powertrain offers smooth and linear power delivery
The car that you see here is the Luxury variant, which comes at a cool $18,000 premium above the entry-level Executive hybrid variant and $10,000 above the also excellent petrol-only IS 300 (prices as of 20 January 2021).

For that price, you get Lexus' Triple 'L' headlamps, heated and ventilated seats upholstered in Lexus' smooth leather, as well as 19-inch rims and memory functions for the driver's seat (The IS300 and IS300h are upholstered in Lexus NuLuxe and get 18-inch rims instead).

Does that mean it's not worth a good look? Not necessarily. From the outside, the Luxury variant certainly does much to raise the aggressiveness of that new updated exterior.

You can identify luxury variants by their 19-inch rims
The upsized wheels draw your attention to the stylish creases that rest on the car's flanks, and Lexus' soft leather seats are a delight to sit in. Soft and supple, they do a good job complementing the seat bolstering to hold your thighs in place when you're throwing the car about.

Much improved

Speaking of which, the car is also a true delight to drive. An extensively revised suspension sees this new Lexus IS offering high levels of body control in the corners, while the ride remains comfortable over all sorts of road imperfections, even on those large 235/40 profile tyres.

A memory function for the driver's seat, as well as heated and ventilated seats, set the Luxury variant apart
This updated car may make do with the same 2.5-litre hybrid drivetrain as in its predecessor, but it still offers smooth and linear take-offs that you would expect of any current commuter hybrid. And even when pushed hard, the IS' drivetrain remains remarkably muted, allowing you to make progress in a truly silent and refined manner.

Transitions between electric-only and petrol-assisted power produce only a barely noticable surge in acceleration.

Despite being paired to a continuously variable transmission, the engine note is also far from grating. It isn't an inspiring note to take in when you're tackling the corners for sure, but to even say that it is unpleasant would be a stretch. 

The facelifted IS gets new round air conditioning vents, while the infotainment screen has been moved 150mm closer to the driver
And besides, with 219bhp of combined system power on offer delivering the car to 100km/h from a standstill in 8.5 seconds, its not as if you'd be pushing the pedal to the floor for extended amounts of time either.

And once at speed, the IS is remarkably quiet, with only some tyre noise starting to sneak through into the cabin. I found both the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and the Lane Tracing Assist practically flawless in their operation on the highway.

Also new for this IS is the infotainment screen that is now a touchscreen, while its size has been increased to 10.3-inches, and its placement brought significantly closer to the driver. The new screen makes scrolling through the infotainment menus a fair bit easier than utilising the notorious touchpad system alone.

Practical commuter

Dynamic Radar Cruise Control and the Lane Tracing Assist work flawlessly
Of course, you'd expect fuel sipping economy and the IS Hybrid doesn't disappoint. Even with fairly eager driving, we managed to clock an impressive fuel consumption of 16.1km/L. 

Those at the rear will find sufficient leg and kneeroom on offer, although lanky passengers will find themselves wanting for headroom. And behind that still, boot space is 450 litres, just slightly shy of the 3 Series' 480 litres or the 460 litres of the Audi A4.

The ideal compact sedan?

If you're a fan of the IS' sporty, low-slung looks, opt for this variant
With its sharp creases, muscular haunches, and that fantastic suspension, the updated Lexus IS certainly has all the underpinnings to make it a convincing compact saloon.

And with the hybrid drivetrain, you get an increased breath of ability without much sacrifice to the car's sportier aspects.

If you want your fuel sipping commuter with sporty looks to match, go for this variant. But if getting the most ability for your dollar is your ultimate goal, the entry-level hybrid is clearly the better option.

Car Information

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Lexus IS 300h Hybrid 2.5 Luxury (A)
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Promotion
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Price

: $217,800

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC with VVT-i

Engine Cap

:

2494cc

Horsepower

:

-

Torque

:

221 Nm / 5200 rpm

Transmission

:

E-CVT (A)

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

8.5sec

Top Speed

:

200km/h

Fuel consumption

:

18.5 km/L

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lexus  is  lexus is  sedan  compact executive sedan  saloon  hybrid  facelift