If you can get past the fact that the Lexus IS200d is competitively outmanoeuvred, it remains an interesting alternative – one that we still find subjectively more satisfying than objective testing would suggest. Even near the end of its lifecycle, it remains an attractive car. The ride and handling mix satisfies more than many modern rivals’, and the transmission on this model is far better than our original IS220d road test car. Sadly, our criticisms at the time of poor rear seat and boot space, plus a relatively unrefined engine, still remain, and are now supplemented by the fact that it feels too slow.
As an alternative to the established premium set, the Lexus IS250C convertible is an interesting addition. That it doesn’t offer the last word in driver involvement is disappointing but entirely acceptable. However, the leisurely performance is not. Likewise, the need to work the engine hard harms economy and emissions. All of these deficiencies might not matter to those living in The OC, but this side of the Atlantic, they could prove more of an issue.
The IS-F is a credible effort for a company whose stock in trade is luxury and refinement, and there is much that Lexus has absolutely nailed. The V8 powerplant stands comparison with any of its rivals’ and the overall balance of the IS-F’s entertaining and adjustable chassis is wonderful. Those are the basics and they’re spot on. In the end, then, it’s details that set the Mercedes C63 and BMW M3 apart from the IS-F. But they’re the details that separate excellence from mere competence.