Because of its low emissions and claimed high economy, its likely the hybrid Lexus IS300h will prove most appealing to buyers.
The petrol-only IS200t may be cheaper than the IS300h, but its turbocharged 242bhp 2.0-litre engine has allowed the Japanese luxury brand to close the gap on its closest downsized four-cylinder turbo petrols that now populate this class.
It’s smooth in operation, although lacking mid-range torque, and reassuringly familiar in some ways – but it would cost you almost twice as much on road tax than some rivals, and will probably consume a good 25 per cent more fuel than it should. Emissions are rated at 167g/km of CO2, while its average combined economy is an unimpressive 32.8mpg.
On paper, the IS300h couldn’t be more different. Powered by a 2.5-litre, 178bhp four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a 141bhp rear-mounted electric motor, it has a maximum ‘system output’ of 220bhp.
It emits half as much CO2 as its range-mate: as little as 99g/km in the case of the entry-level IS300h SE. And the hybrid's claimed combined economy figure of 65.7mpg is more than twice as good as that of the V6-engined alternative.
Objectively, you couldn’t accuse the IS300h of having dreary outright pace, in contrast to some Toyota hybrids. In our hands, it cracked 60mph from rest in 8.1sec.
The last Mercedes-Benz C 220 CDI saloon we figured took half a second longer and a BMW 320d is less than half a second quicker. So the IS300h finds itself in a competitive place for such a low-emitting executive saloon. Over a standing kilometre, it is actually a wee bit faster than even the BMW.