The Sport improves on the standard car in some areas and detracts in others
Keyless entry is typical of the enjoyable to use features that abound on the Lexus
The engine is a problem: not refined enough at idle and low road speeds and not that powerful
The rev counter lights up in a discreet but nannying fashion when you're approaching the rev line.
The IS is almost convincing in its role - but there is too much more talented opposition
What’s new? The IS220d gets shortened gear ratios, Lexus’ Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) and 18-inch wheels.What’s it like? A mixed result for Lexus’ only diesel. Refinement remains largely intact despite the bigger rims, though coarse surfaces produce lots of tyre roar. The smooth-revving but noisy unit needs to be kept on the boil to make progress and the baulky gearchange is not an asset. It is still hard to credit that the unit has 295lb ft of torque.Thanks to the altered ratios, fifth is now a good fast back road gear and sixth works well at British motorway speeds. Levels of outright grip and cornering speed are high and VDIM is a sophisticated co-ordinator of brakes, steering and power. But there is too much roll and not enough steering linearity in the steering to bind car and driver over the road; the 220 is still hunting for a smooth multi-lane. There, its relative lack of fluency and urgency would matter less than its swift, relaxing gait.Should I buy one? The Sport specification sharpens the IS, and brings comfortable, stylish seats and plenty of kit. But you should certainly try the very talented opposition before buying. There’s not just BMW’s 155kg-lighter 320d, but Alfa’s new 159 JTDm too.Richard Dilks