Not quite a 3-series, but gets close and looks fantastic

What’s new?

The future of Lexus won't exactly fly or die on the reputation of the stunning new IS 250, but anything less than a clear victory over it rivals would be an anti-climax. Trouble is, those rivals include the new BMW 3-series.

Mechanically, the Lexus has a 2.5-litre V6 powering the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox – or a six-speed auto as in our test car. Suspension is by double wishbones at the front with a multi-link arrangement at the rear.

Considering the new car is longer, wider and 20 per cent stiffer than its predecessor, it's impressive that use of aluminium keeps weight down to only around 50kg heavier than equivalent versions of the old car.

What’s it like?

The Lexus boasts items such as leather seats, 17in wheels and cruise control within its basic £25,400 asking price. First thing you notice is its exquisite detailing, and also its presence, which is considerable. It looks expensive, exotic even, and around the nose and tail in particular it has a strength of character that company car drivers wishing to stand out from the crowd are going to get very excited about.

From the moment you pull on one of the IS' beautifully damped doorhandles and climb aboard it feels impossibly expensive inside. The facia design is intriguing, but when you interact with it you begin to suspect that, in certain areas, style tends to rule over function.

A number of things both irritate and impress about the IS 250 on the move. The engine is quiet and smooth, but the ride is decidedly firm at low speed and to begin with it feels as if someone has left the sport suspension setting on.

Then there's the steering, which initially feels over responsive to your inputs. The further you go, the more you get used to it, but at no point does the 250's steering feel anywhere near as fluid or natural as the BMW's.

The response from the front tyres is immediate and the onset of undertseer non-existent, it feels if anything like it wants to oversteer on turn-in. In the event of this happening the ESP system will quickly intervene, and in an untidy lurch you stay on the road. But it's doubtful whether the Lexus should be set up to behave like this in the first place.

So should buy one?

Not as spacious nor as good to drive as a new 3-series but the Lexus is beautiful to behold, well equipped and has an interior and a level of build quality to die for. It runs the BMW very close, and for many its looks alone will seal the deal.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
Roy Fullee 10 March 2008

Re: Lexus IS250

I am surprised at the problems you've experienced. I've rated Japanese cars at the best built in the world, with Toyota/Lexus topping the list. Mind you, i was looking at an IS250 a few months ago......and then bought a 325i!

pushkal11 10 March 2008

Lexus IS250

Well here it mentions that there is excellent build quality but actually i own an IS250 SE Multimedia Automatic and ts not so great! The car is only 2 years old and it rattles and squeeks from everywhere. There are noises coming from the dashboard and steering column that have been given to the dealer several times and they can't fix it because all the do is put some fabric tape inside t. Also if you take it out on a sunny day the back window seems to rattle a lot. Its ashame because the cars look great but just are not up to standard.

I have always driven mercs and beamers but felt that i wanted a change this time and it was the biggest mistake of my life. The extra £3000 for the equivelant 3 series would have seen me happier. I mean this is not what you expect when you spend thirty grand on a car that they say is of hgh quality. Basically in order to give you top notch electronics they give you the worst possible build quality.

Just for note, my car is cherished and hasn't a scratch on it, so its not my driving!

Another thing is that the service is terrible. I went to Lexus Glasgow to get a new battery for the key and the sales people are so rude that they act as if you are stupid. For heavens sake the guy checked my number plate to see is the car was from a lexus dealer. My car has a private plate so has the name of the shop i got the plates made from and the guy couldn't help but make allegations that because the car wasn't from the dealer the battery had gone! He also thought i couldn't lock and unlock the car that i had had for nearly a year and said it was because i was pulling the door handle. Well DUH!How else are you meant to open the door! I had to tell him bought it from that dealership to shut him up.

Well in conclusion i feel the cars are crap because i have heard about the dashboard from other people and i also encourage no one to buy a Lexus ever because at the end of the day its not got the build quality or service of a BMW, Merc or Jag. So I'm selling it next week and going to buy an XF!