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Car reviews - Lexus - IS - IS250 sedan range


Bigger in all areas, the new Lexus IS250 sedan is set to rip into its German rivals

15 Nov 2005

LEXUS’ first try at a BMW 3 Series rival was nothing short of sensational. The IS200’s superb handling, sharp styling, great quality and comfortable cabin really put the Japanese cat among the fat German pigeons. Dynamically it wasn’t until the 2001 E46 Series II that BMW eclipsed the IS, and the others are still trying. Now Lexus has started all over again with the totally new IS250. It’s safer, faster, stronger, roomier, more refined and much more up-to-date in design. But the charismatic in-line sixes have gone, replaced by a 2.5-litre V6. And overall weight has rocketed. So is the IS still special?

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Model release date: 1 November 2005 to 1 June 2013

Previous model

IS200/IS300 sedan

Released: Mar 99/Aug 01
Ended: Oct 05
Family Tree: IS

Lexus well and truly arrived for many when this peachy little prestige knockout rattled lower-line BMWs, Audis and Benzes six years ago. The IS200 was better than anybody had expected from Toyota’s luxury car offshoot, with rear-wheel drive, a silky (if slightly peaky) 114kW/195Nm 2.0-litre in-line six married to a superbly slick six-speed manual (or slower four-speed automatic) and excellent handling, roadholding and brakes. From mid-2001 the 157kW/288Nm 3.0-litre IS300 version should have addressed the one single letdown of the littler engine – namely a surfeit of torque – but Toyota inexplicably only brought in a five-speed auto.

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