This was my first car and I was on the market for a vehicle I could use to drive to and from university and work. Originally I had intended on purchasing a performance vehicle, but the styling and luxury features of the Lexus had drawn me in. I sought specifically for a vehicle with the enhancement packages to receive the Mark Levinson sound system along with Bluetooth and sunroof. I further personalised the car with genuine 17” Sports Luxury wheels.
Working within the car industry I was familiar with Lexus’s value for money proposition compared to the big players such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes and the underlying reliability of a Toyota-related product was appealing as a student.
I was a big fan of the exterior styling of the IS250, particularly from directly behind the vehicle and the front ¾ view. With the addition of larger wheels, and finished in Metallic Black, the car has a nice stance with subtly muscular lines towards the rear resulting in a strong but luxurious presence. I was surprised to feel the car had not dated very much on the outside.
The interior layout, for its age, was quite good. I avoided the naff wood veneer centre console trim for the faux-aluminium which was boring but inoffensive. Coupled with the black leather interior, it was a nice place to be and the optional Enhancement Package with the 8” touchscreen definitely lifted the interior ambience One small but nice touch was the way the white backlit needles would race along the tachometer whenever you would start the vehicle – misleadingly race-y for a 8 second plus car, but nice nonetheless.
Soft, spongey plastics adorned the dash and touch points along the door which was commendable however time had taken its toll and some parts were starting to disintegrate. Of less impressiveness was the ‘straight out of a Corolla’ power window and cruise control switches.
Centre console switchgear had a pleasing tactility to them (again, considering the age) and were faultless in their function.
I also loved the ventilated seats, which were a standard feature(!) back in 2008 – perfect after an intense gym session.
The Lexus infotainment system was probably outstanding back in 2008, but not so much in 2016. Loading times were surprisingly quick, but being a resistive touchscreen it was not overly responsive to touch without a firm press. Of particular annoyance was the climate control – only accessible via the touchscreen for fan speed; temperature controlled with hard buttons for adjustment that you had to tap as though you were trying to enter the temperature manually via morse code. It did, however, blow cold like an Antarctic breeze.
The navigation system was acceptable in that it would take you to the destination, however only allowed a top down birds-eye view that did not rotate to the direction the vehicle was driving. Entering destinations was not entirely user friendly however it was quick in its rerouting.
The Mark Levinson 14 speaker sound system was outstanding punching deep, tight, venerable bass along with clear highs; it would shame a lot of more modern branded setups in luxury vehicles today.
The Lexus was primarily used as an A to B appliance and for that it was a stylish way to cruise around. No complaints on this front.
The 2.5L V6 in combination with the 6-speed torque converter auto delivered smooth, syrupy performance that made the V6 pleasing to rev out. The engine emits a slightly gruff yet sporty exhaust note as it moves towards the 7,000rpm cut out, which you would find yourself doing often as there is practically no torque down low. The flip-side of this is high consumption for a not particularly fast vehicle – I would average between 12-14L per 100km. Acceptable considering the competition in 2008 but if I were a new car buyer in 2015 comparing an IS250 to the C-class, 3 series and A4 turbocharged competition (prior to the release of the IS200t) this would have been a deal breaker.
The steering had a nice weight to it and the nose tucked in nice and quickly but this was a car to be driven up to 7/10th’s and not much more. Much more suited to cruising on the highway where it felt solid as a double brick house and would let in a comparable amount of road nice. NVH rated well with no notable issues.
Rear seat legroom is tight, especially considering once my 6 foot plus frame was in the driver’s seat. Add to this the high central tunnel in the middle seat footwell and the contoured shape of the outboard seat, it becomes quickly apparent the interior isn’t overly roomy. If you only have 2 friends this vehicle is perfect (part of my buying decision…) but I surely wouldn’t recommend it as a 4 or 5 person affair unless you really disliked your friends.
As a testament to the Lexus reliability – I left the sunroof open on 3 separate occasions overnight to medium to heavy rainfall. The musky smell took a few days to come out of the interior but everything on the inside worked flawlessly. Shame I can’t say the same about my common sense sometimes.
As a used car proposition, considering the prices you can pick up one of these cars for, I would resoundingly recommend this vehicle. For similar money, none of the German competition can touch the IS250 for equipment, and arguably for fit and finish.
As a motoring enthusiast the performance slowly became tiresome for me however for the general motoring use, the V6 makes a fine companion for the vehicle and suits its overall demeanour. Purchasing a car out of warranty, the reliability is an important consideration and on this front the Lexus is faultless.