QUICK DRIVE: Lexus IS250 F Sport

For a full Road Test of the Lexus IS300h F Sport click here.

It is virtually impossible to talk about any IS without mentioning those confrontational looks – personally we here at Oversteer love them, although admittedly not at first. The vibrant blue of the car we tested here perfectly suited the sweeping, aggressive lines of the IS and the even more aggressive F Sport body kit topped things off perfectly.

If you are the shy, retiring sort that looks at the IS and would be horrified at the idea of driving one, then you are probably a Mercedes owner anyway, so stick with that.

However, if you are a BMW owner who looks at the aggressive Lexus and thinks “I could go a bit of that…”, then you may well be disappointed. The IS is not a 3 Series when it comes to dynamics. It is no slouch, and is capable of being very fun and satisfying through the winding stuff, but in terms of ultimate dynamic ability the 3 Series is still justified in its Ultimate Driving Machine marketing claim.

Still, the IS is close enough that, if those looks are a temptation, then you probably wouldn’t end up regretting it. The 3 Series may have the edge through the corners, but the IS kills it for presence, personality and equipment.

Inside the IS250 the fantastic dash design and layout is as distinctive as the exterior, but far less angular and aggressive. Amazing seats and an (optional) thunderous Mark Levinson sound system round out possibly the best interior in a mainstream car on sale today. The ugly plastic slug joystick controller and poorly placed cupholders are annoyances, but still can’t tarnish the pure awesomeness of the interior…

While it doesn’t have the low-down electric grunt or frugality of the hybrid IS300h we have previously tested, the 2.5-litre 153kW/252Nm inline six-cylinder engine in the 250 is a wonderfully silky smooth unit. Sounds great too, even if the sound inside is “enhanced”, it still sounds brilliantly aggressive on the outside.

In place of the IS300h’s hybrid drive and CVT transmission, the 250 features a slick six-speed automatic transmission that is well-suited to the engine, although can occasionally be a bit sluggish to downshift.

All up the IS250 F Sport is a distinctive and impressive alternative to a BMW 3 Series. But only if those looks appeal…

Price: $84,995

Engine: 2.5-litre inline six-cylinder petrol

Power/torque: 153kW/252Nm

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

0-100km/h: 8.1 seconds

Fuel consumption: 9.2L/100km

CO2 emissions: 169g/km

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