We drove the Lexus IS 300h: your stylish sedan with a bright green future…

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E-power looks to become the mobility solution for the coming decades, and indeed manufacturers are eagerly developing a complete range of electric cars. They will be fit for the megacities of this planet, but when you want to cover long distances in less populated areas and in countries where the charging infrastructure is not yet up to scratch, the (plug in) hybrid layout seems to be the solution with an immediate and bright future.

Toyota and Lexus have been producing hybrids now for years, and have acquired a vast experience and know how in making these cars. The Lexus IS 300h impressed us greatly again. It is synonymous of excellence, and we can hardly find a sedan with is more fitting for our times, and this for years to come.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Stylish

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Lexus seems to have acquired now a very confident and distinctive styling language, which embodies the character of the marque very well. The front end treatment has made its mark and is altogether quite pleasing, evoking well the futuristic stance of the brand. The overall body contours are well balanced and proportioned, and the accent lines are elegant and enhance the overall look of this Lexus.

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The same can be said of the cabin, which also breathes the typical styling language of the brand. We find iconic ergonomic solutions like the little square knob on the centre console which lets you breeze through the menus on the central screen display and select unerringly the mode or function you want. It takes some getting used to, but after a while you wouldn’t want anything else.

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But there is more. The excellent sound system for instance. The position of the audio knob, nicely tilted to suit your right hand ideally. The slot for your CD’s, as you, like every music buff, still love to listen to them in your car.

Smooth drivetrain, with a heart for classic enthusiasts…

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Silky smooth, powerful, reaching near perfection in our eyes, that’s how you might describe this drivetrain. It is made for restful driving, in town or on long trips. Just enjoy its soothing power, pushing you gently in 8,3 seconds to a speed of 100 km/h, speeding with a whisper to an electronically governed top speed of 200 km/h. Below the bonnet (or hood) sits the trusty 2,5 liter four cylinder, coupled to a CVT transmission and of course assisted by a powerful electric engine. Total system power is 223 hp. The good engine torque sees to it that this engine is fit for very low revs, and indeed this warrants smooth and silent, totally effortless cruising.

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You have of course the choice between different modes, from eco to sport. The electronic display changes dramatically, especially in the sport mode. We just loved it. In front of you appears a large rev counter, and red ambiente light shines in the instrument cluster.

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But there is more. Chassis and steering have sharper responsiveness, and then there is the artificial engine sound through the speakers of the Levinson system. Unbelievable. The racy sound of a thoroughbred six, going up and down through the gears at high revs fills the cabin. And even when you are crawling in a traffic jam under e-power, or just standing in front of a traffic light with the engine shut off, your ears are still treated to the hissing sound of a nervously idling pur sang engine! How about THIS for nostalgia gentlemen!

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And it is nice to know that the environment is not impaired by your love for racing camshafts and pistons. The hybrid combination of E-power with the engine let’s you achieve stunning economy, our average consumption was merely 6 liters/100 km, and CO2 emissions are barely 97 g/km.

Precise handling and state of the art chassis

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Lexus reviewed the handling of its IS 300, and the result is clearly felt. The car is flatter in corners, and steers with great precision. Together with the lesser bodyroll there is also reduced understeer, actually the car steered neutral in bends and this up to very high speeds. This inspires confidence and makes driving over winding roads restful and pleasant.

Conclusion

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A truly formidable sedan, which is pleasant to drive, and the satisfaction grows even more the longer you drive it. It has the driveline solution of the future, it is superbly built, well styled to withstand the times, and what’s more, it is not only mechanically built to last very long, it is also very easy on maintenance and last but not least fuel. Should you book it for a test drive to see for yourself? We think after reading this, you know what to do…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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