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Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

Well, this is unusual. For the first time that we can remember, the desire to boost environmental credentials by Lexus has come at the expense of power and performance for the IS, and you have no choice in the matter.

The IS200d, which replaces the IS220d, retains the same 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine but with changes to its combustion chamber and piezo-electric fuel injectors. It also now has a diesel particulate filter to meet Euro 5 emissions standards. The result is a claimed combined economy figure of 55.4mpg (up from 50.4mpg) and a CO2 figure of 134g/km (down from 148g/km). However, power and torque have also been reduced. The IS200d's 148bhp and 251lb ft are 27bhp and 44lb ft down on the model it replaces.

After repeated high-speed stops the brakes get a little grumbly, but don’t seem to lose their power, nor does the pedal get long.

In urban use, this isn't so much of a problem, because the spread of torque is sufficient for smooth progress. But out of town, the IS200d needs to be worked for its performance and, even then, it is slower than some rivals.

The mainstream petrol choice is a 2.5-litre V6. Despite the impressive capacity and number of cylinders, it produces just 205bhp and a feeble 186lb ft of torque, and then only at 4800rpm. Try anything more pressing than wafting and it really isn’t interested. Switching to Sport mode does improve the situation, but only slightly.

The saving grace in the range is the IS-F. Freed from the refinement and economy shackles of its hybrid applications, this 5.0-litre V8 is far and away the most engaging motor Lexus produces. The delivery itself is relatively peaky. Maximum power arrives at 6600rpm, after the torque peak at 5200rpm, and the red line is at 7000rpm, so this is a high-revving engine. At MIRA’s test track, the IS-F couldn’t quite match Lexus’s acceleration claims, although 5.2sec to 60mph and 12.3sec to 100mph are very respectable figures.

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