Lexus is making another attempt to rival the 3 Series and C-Class with its new-generation IS, but is the pricing (from R841 300) just too steep?

By Jason Woosey56m ago
JOHANNESBURG – The new-generation Lexus IS, and latest attempt to take on the BMW 3 Series, is set to hit South African showrooms soon sporting a striking new design, modernised cabin tech and a hybrid powertrain.
Whereas previous IS generations were available with six-cylinder power, the only powertrain offered in the new line-up is a hybrid, which pairs a 2.5-litre normally aspirated petrol engine to an electric motor for a system output of 164kW. This, says Lexus, is enough to enable an 8.7 second 0-100km/h sprint, but there will no doubt be potential buyers hoping for more in the way of performance, particularly at the prices Lexus is charging for the new IS…
Customers will be able to pre-order their IS from the first week of April, with Lexus offering a choice of three derivatives – an IS 300h EX priced at R841 300, an SE version for R899 800 and an F-Sport for R916 300.
That is a significant premium over its rivals from Germany, and the new Lexus could be a hard sell against BMWs 330i, which offers 190kW of power at R776 876, and the 150kW Mercedes C200 that retails from R757 200. However, these rivals dont offer hybrid drivetrains, which will give the Lexus a unique selling point among those buyers seeking to lower their carbon footprint.
Dynamically, however, the IS does at least remain at the sharp end of the game with a rear-wheel drive layout as well as improved body rigidity and substantial chassis changes that include a 45mm-wider front and 50mm-wider rear track.
As mentioned, the new IS boasts a striking and edgy new design that is sure to get noticed out on the street, and Lexus is not holding back on wheel size either, with the EX and SE rolling on 18-inch alloys and the F-Sport gaining 19 rims. The latter is further set apart by piano black colouring for the grille and F Sport badges on the fenders.
Inside youll find a new 26cm touchscreen infotainment system as well as new features not found as standard on the previous IS, such as an electric parking brake and (on the SE and F Sport models), a pre-collision system with daytime cyclist detection, active cruise control, blind spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and panoramic view monitor.
In terms of luxury features, the entry EX comes standard with dual-zone climate control, heated and power-adjustable front seats, smart entry and start and a 10-speaker audio system.
The SE and F Sport models up the ante with features like satnav, voice control and LED headlights with automatic high-beam control.
All models are sold with a seven-year/105 000km warranty and maintenance plan.
IS 300h EX – R841 300
IS 300h SE – R899 800
IS 300h F Sport – R916 100
IOL Motoring