Friday, March 3, 2017

Bucket Seat: Lexus IS200t

When it comes to luxury car makers, the D Segment is by far their most popular range. Many term this their "bread and butter", as these models tend to be the perfect entry level car among prospective buyers. It's affordable and the with the seemingly endless options, it can extend from a basic model right up to high end one that rival cars in the segments above. The competition has always been a tough one and most of the time, the German trio seem to have the biggest say if one has to look at the sales over the years but what if the alternatives were better? Step in Lexus, Toyota's luxury division, whilst many associate the brand for being "boring", purely because of one egocentric television presenter, I think the brand is anything but.

Ever since Lexus brought the IS range into the country, they kept things plain and simple with just two models at the time, the IS200S and the IS200SE, with both cars offering the end buyer a host of  features, most of which would be deemed extras in the German contenders, and we all know how much extras amount to in them.  Fast forward to today and not much has changed, the new revised Lexus IS range that has just hit the country offers three variants, the IS200t E, IS200t EX and the IS350 F-Sport. I first caught a glimpse of the revised IS at last years SA Festival of Motoring in Kyalami and was taken away by the car, I had the opportunity to spend a week with the IS200t E and can't say it was easy letting go of the key when I had to return it.


While previous IS models were good looking, there was a subtle nature to their design, with clean lines, nothing over the top but still maintain that elegance it deserved. I'm not sure if the designers at Lexus ate too much wasabi or had a few extra shots of Saki when they went into designing this one because it's completely different to what we would normally expect from the Japanese manufacturer. Lexus call it their "L Finesse design language", I just call it shockingly stunning. I say shockingly because there is nothing cautious or "boring" about it. Everything about the cars design philosophy needs to be admired, from the spindle grille, the split front headlamps, the sharp and edgy lines cutting its way across the car to the back , where this is continued with the rear lights that slice it's way into the bumper. It's all finished off well with a dark grey 17" alloy wheels with option for bigger ones if you want. It's drastic, its in your face and I love it! It's eye catching but not something that will hurt you eyes but rather something that you'd stare at while sitting in your car and make you wish your car looked half as good as it. It almost reminds me of a samurai warrior for some reason, sharp, agile and quick and that's just going on looks.


While I could go on about the exterior, the interior deserves some talking about as well. For me, the driver is the most important person in the car and very few cars give that feeling, with the IS it is very evident. It has a very driver focused cockpit with everything within's arm reach of you, it is the only place you'd want to sit in the car...actually I don't think I sat in any other seat in my time with it but I have it on good authority that the back seats are quite comfortable and spacious from the many people that I have given a ride to in the week. The finishes and materials used in the car are all high end and of great quality, and it's all done at their award winning Tahara plant. I mean the place it's being made in has won awards so you know you're product is going to be of high quality. It's the simple things that win you over in the car, if you follow me on Snapchat, you would have saw me mention how great the steering wheel feels, seriously do yourselves a favour and go find a Lexus IS and feel the how awesome the steering wheel feels. I'd suggest you go to a showroom as asking an owner might seem a bit creepy. The ride quality on the car is great, with it having double wishbone suspension upfront and multi-link at the back this ensures a smooth ride. There is little to no engine noise in the cabin and with dual zone climate control, the temperature can be set to suit everyone's needs. I also love the controls for them, as you just run your finger up or down the lengthy control. The car also comes with heating and cooling seats, which prove to be a winner in Durban with the extreme heat and humidity.  


Its the first time Lexus has added a turbo engine to its local line up, and it's about time they did with the other manufacturers taking advantage of this over the years. The engine is a 2.0 litre, 4 cylinder, inline arrangement with D-4ST (Direct injection 4-stroke) with a maximum power output of 180kW @ 5800rpm, pushing out 350Nm of torque. The car has three driver settings, Eco, Normal and Sport, driving around urban areas, the Eco mode shines through, with low fuel usage, power when you need it with an extremely quiet and gentle ride, almost as if you're floating around. The Normal mode gives you slightly higher revs and quicker reaction time but at times it also switches automatically to Eco mode when the car feels it could use less power than actually needs, a great feature to help you save fuel. There is a slight turbo lag if you want to get off a standing start quickly but that is reduced quite a bit when flicked over into sport mode, naturally this makes the car very thirsty so just watch your foot. It's so much fun though, slap the gear selector into manual mode, and take charge of the gear changes with the paddle shifts behind the steering wheel and it will make you feel like a race car driver. Once going in any mode, the car picks up pace very quickly so you got to keep and eye on the counter. All in all, this engine packs quite punch but at the same time is the perfect all rounder for a car like this. 


Like I said, Lexus is known to have most features that other manufacturers would deem optional extras as standard in their models. As previously mentioned, the IS has heated and cooling seats, standard, as well as dual zone climate control, standard. Advanced energy saving LED headlamps, standard, 8-way electrically adjustable seats with driver lumbar support, standard and the list goes on though there were a few things that I thought the they could have included as standard feature which were missing. PDC's is one of them, with most cars these days, its almost becoming essential and with the design of the car, its not that easy to judge how far away you are from objects, so even if I'm pushing it, a reverse camera? Most Corolla's have that as a standard feature now so you'd think it would be in a Lexus. Anyway, that is about the only low point I have with the car. The standard sound system the car comes with is impressive as well, a 10 speaker audio system with full iPod integration and 2 USB ports with an added auxiliary port. The IS also comes with Bluetooth telephone and audio streaming so there really isn't a need for all the wires. 


Everything about the brand is personified by it's slogan, "The pursuit of perfection" and it shines through in their products. This model is a revised version of the IS but to show you how they focus on not just improving their product but the intricacies they go through to make it perfect is mind blowing, here's an excerpt from the brochure "we've moved the driver's seat hip point backwards by 18mm and lowered it by 9mm, and raised the steering wheel pitch by 3 degrees" . Millimeters, that is the level of detail they go to, to ensure the product they send out is perfect in their eyes and it's something that I admire about Lexus. Whilst the cars price range is a bit more than its competitors, one must remember what you're getting in the IS200t E as apposed to the others, for me personally, I think this is the best all round purchase for the D Segment category and a complete package if I may call it that.


 2.0 litre, 4 Cylinder
 Gear Box
 8 speed automatic with paddle shift
 Top Speed
 7.0 seconds
 R601 900* 

*Base price.

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