A new force in the luxury car market
People often ask me “what is your favourite car,” I always try to be diplomatic about it. But when pressed, I will confess that over the years the Lexus IS series of cars have been the ones I like to drive the most. The latest IS I have tested is the 200t series, which is the base model of the IS line up and the only rear drive model in the group. The 250 and 350 models are all-wheel drive (AWD), making the 200t a little different.
So why do I like the IS series so much? First off for me, they are just the right size for today’s congested roads. They are slightly smaller than the current full-sized cars, making them easy to get about in traffic and manoeuvre in tight parking lots and spaces.
At just 4,680 mm long and 1,810 mm wide, I found it easy to manoeuvre about in tight spaces. This translates to a comfortable interior that will seat four adults without feeling cramped and with adequate leg room in the rear. The IS is classed as a five-seater, so you could squeeze in an extra person if needed. Trunk room is good at 0.31 cubic meters (10 cubic feet) for a car of this size.
To keep the price down, the IS 200t has just the basic luxury items including leather seating. The test car I drove was the F Sport model which added a host of cosmetic items, a moon roof, and a backup camera which really made the car much more desirable. The package also included the sport seat which I found to hold you in well and at the same time very comfortable.
Power for my test car was the 2 liter in-line 4-cyclinter turbo charged engine producing 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque which was more than adequate to propel the car up the hilly Capilano Road in North Vancouver with little effort. The transmission on the IS 200t is an eight-speed automatic unit that worked flawlessly and shifted up and down when needed to give the car a good power range no matter what kind of road the car encountered. The other side of an eight-speed transmission is fuel consumption. Driving the car in the city gave me about 10.6 L/100 km while on the highway I did get the specified 7.3 L/100 km.
As you might expect, handling was what I have come to expect from the IS series cars and it was excellent. While testing the car I encountered some high winds and the car was solid with no sway whatsoever. Passing and accelerating on the highway was as well very acceptable from a 4-cylinder car.
What really stands out about the Lexus cars and especially the IS 200t is how easy it is to become familiar with and become comfortable with the car. All the controls were well-placed and well-marked. This allowed the driver to easily get the feel for the car and get to know the features of the car without spending a lot of time experimenting with knobs, buttons and various screens on the dash. It didn’t take long for me to get used to the car and having fun driving it.
The base price of the IS 200t is around $42,000, and mine with the F Sport package added another $3,000 which in my mind was a necessity. By far Lexus cars have become a new force in the luxury car market that should not be over looked if you are shopping for a slightly smaller high-end car. As well when it comes to resale value, the Lexus line holds their value very well.
Torque (lb-ft): 258
Gearbox: 8-speed automatic
Layout: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 10.6 L/100 km city 7.3 L/100 km highway