From £24,510
Cleaner, more economical IS pays the price in terms of performance
29 November 2010

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.

See pics of the Lexus IS 200d in action

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.


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Jamie Corstorphine

Lexus IS200d F Sport

Price: £28,290; Top speed: 127mph; 0-62mph: 10.2sec; Economy: 55.4mpg (combined); CO2: 134g/km; Kerb weight: 1635kg; Engine: 4 cyls in line, 2231cc, turbodiesel; Power: 148bhp at 3600rpm; Torque: 251lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Join the debate


2 December 2010

Its always been the alternative, and the pricing, power and economy don't make sense against the Merc and clearly the BMW 320d/318d.. I think I personally would take the bland looking 3 series with the better engine and change, even though i'll only get 4 wheels, an engine, steering wheel and as much air as I can trap in the cabin as standard.

3 December 2010

This is a backward step for Lexus which is a shame because i like the IS and would have one if i could afford it.It is time Lexus put a competitive diesel in all their cars and become a proper alternative.

3 December 2010

well only answer is to maybe go down the route of a remap. Yes I agree can do this to bmw's etc but if you really wanted the lexus maybe thats the only way now to get a quicker one!

3 December 2010

IMO Lexus needs to swallow its pride and either team up with another manufacturer who can supply competitive diesels, spend money on developing one or not bother. This the most important segment for this sector of cars, not having a good enough engine must be damaging sales. When even standard fair such as Ford, Peugeot, Vauxhall et al all have better engines.

3 December 2010

They really need to offer this car with an auto gearbox. My Dad was all set to try one but realised they were manual only. So he kept his Merc 220D automatic. I prefer manuals but plenty of drivers want auto these days, particularly in this segment. BMW and Mercedes and Audi do auto diesels these days.

3 December 2010

I test drove an IS220d - had high hopes.

These soon disolved what a rubbish car. 6th gear is USELESS at under 80 - even the salesman admitted as much.


3 December 2010

The ride and handling mix satisfies more than many modern rivals.


3 December 2010

I agree with the points made here about the engine not coming up to scratch. I'm puzzled as to why they don't make a hybrid (or perhaps they do) that seems to be the way Toyota is going. This car seems to have been behind in the diesel stakes ever since it had its first engine. Trouble is without a diesel the European market will be difficult to crack. At the moment it's not in the race at the premium end of the market. Strange, isn't it because the Toyota Avensis competes well against the Mondeo/Vauxhall/Peugeot-Citroen.

4 December 2010

I like the IS but this car is so un-competitive its unreal! German cars where returning these sort of economy figures from a 140bhp engine 5 years ago. A BMW 320D ED is light years ahead with 163bhp, 8 sec 0-60, 109g/ km co2 and nearly 70mpg combined.... against 148 bhp, 10 sec 0-60, 134g/ km co2 and a mere 55mpg combined. If it was cheap like £20k maybe they would get away with it, but at nearly £30k (same prices as the outgoing is220d) they have no chance of success especially given the weak resale values! Instead of making the IS better they have just made it a whole lot worse. May as well pull it out of the UK all together.

4 December 2010

Although having said all that.... I've just noticed that are currently offering very good savings on the IS range, can currently get a new 200d or a stock 220d for £17.5k OTR after discounts. Makes a bit more sense at that price, unlike the simply ludicrous £30k suggested in this review.


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