Instead of adopting modern wallet-friendly, turbo-diesel powertrains, Lexus remains committed to its petrol-electric hybrid technology to satisfy buyers bent on stretching their petrodollar further in their luxury ride.
The IS300h’s answer to the frugal diesels is a 2.5-litre Atkinson Cycle four-cylinder petrol engine producing 133kW of power at 6000rpm, and 221Nm of torque from 4200-5400rpm. The electric motor adds a 105kW/300Nm boost right from the get-go.
Both power sources combine to make 164kW as a “maximum system output” and drive through the rear wheels via a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The IS300h needs 8.5 seconds to get to 100km/h, with claimed 4.9L/100km fuel consumption.
I can only imagine how efficient and quick this car might be if it were built with the same attention to lightweight construction as the BMW.
In the real world though, those acceleration times mean little. The extra torque boost from zero rpm in the IS300h ensures there’s more than enough poke to leave most rivals standing at the lights, should a quick left-lane merge be necessary.
There’s no low-rev diesel clatter, either. Instead, the blend of electricity and petrol is smooth and refined – especially when driven sedately around town. It’s also impressively quiet inside the cabin, too, thanks to the car’s superb insulation.
While we didn’t subject the IS300h to any long-range trips, fuel consumption on a diet of daily commuting, complete with the odd lead-foot moment, remains impressive, given the car’s substantial weight penalty.
I’ve clocked up over 500 kilometres in the Lexus, and no matter how hard you drive, its difficult to use more than 7.4L/100km. If you’re extra-light on the throttle in the Eco mode, then consumption is likely to fall below 6.5L/100km, though still shy of factory claims.
To counter the good looks of the latest C-Class, as well as the clean lines of the Audi and BMW, the Lexus (especially F-Sport variants) is blessed with an undeniably striking design.
Inside, it’s the same story. While it’s less attractive than the C-Class and not as clean as the Audi and BMW, it does feel special and most of the materials are first class and nice to the touch.
The build quality and attention to detail, though, is simply exquisite. Take the electric windows – they slow down before sealing with a hiss, rather than the usual clunk. Nothing in this class comes close.
The Lexus IS300h is by no means perfect – it’s heavy, not particularly dynamic, and the ride is a little bit too firm for my liking.
However, despite its substantial weight penalty, fuel efficiency is up there with the most frugal European diesels. It’s also wonderfully sumptuous inside and comes with a class-leading inventory of standard equipment - all at a thoroughly competitive price-point.