What is it?
Well, this is unusual. Not the fact that Lexus now has a cleaner version of its diesel-powered IS compact premium saloon, but that its environmental credentials come at the expense of power and performance, and that 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.
What's it like?
In urban use this isn't so much of a problem, as 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.
Lexus' asking price of £28,290 for the F Sport trim tested here (which also gets some exterior upgrades for 2011) is unchanged from the price of the equivalent IS220d. Although that makes it £1000 cheaper than a BMW 320d M Sport, in every other respect the BMW (181bhp, 280lb ft, 60.1mpg and 125g/km) trounces the Lexus. As does the Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI Sport, even though it is more expensive still. Going in the opposite direction on price, the BMW 318d M Sport, although less powerful than the IS200d, is still faster and more economical.
Should I buy one?
If you can get past the fact that the IS200d is competitively outmanoeuvred, it remains an interesting alternative, one we still find subjectively more satisfying than objective testing would suggest.
Five years on, and in F Sport trim, 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.