The Lexus that IS more sport than luxury

The Lexus that Is more sport than luxury

When we look back on 2008 and consider the best automotive value in Canada, some may look at the Hyundai Accent L and its dirt-cheap $9,995 MSRP, or on the opposite end of the scale, the Lexus LX570, a new model that went down in price by almost $17,000.

But whereas you won’t have so much as air conditioning in the Accent and you still have to be substantially wealthy to be able to afford the LX570, the 2008 Lexus IS250 is a gorgeous vehicle that has a mind-bogglingly low price. The base IS250 is almost $5,000 cheaper compared to 2007’s model … and you don’t have to run your own law firm to consider it and its $31,000 base price tag.

The price isn’t the only thing that makes the IS250 appealing though – far from it. This may be Lexus’ entry-level vehicle, but it still retains many of the qualities of its more expensive siblings. It has a whisper-quiet engine, an absolutely pristine interior and Lexus’ attractive new L-Finesse styling.

It may not be sporty enough for those drivers who eat horsepower for breakfast and wash it down with a healthy serving of torque, but when you consider the whole package (not just performance), it makes a case for itself as a truly compelling compact luxury sport sedan.

Though the rear-wheel drive IS250 is the model with the aforementioned $31,000 base price, my tester was equipped with all-wheel drive. The AWD IS is a little heavier and its weight distribution is slightly less balanced than its RWD brother, but for a Lexus – a luxury badge not known for its sportiness – it’s still a lot of fun.

Even before getting into it though, it’s easy to tell that the IS doesn’t have the same attitude as other Lexus cars. It has a short back end and a long front end, giving it a roadster-like silhouette. The taillights sweep around the sides and grow larger moving toward the front, giving it the appearance of moving forward, and the exterior for the most part is uncluttered, so the focus here is obviously more on driving and not so much on just looking good (even though it really, really does).

Once you do step in, it’s difficult to deny that the interior does ooze Lexus from every air vent and cupholder. The seats are more soft and cushy than they are supportive – which doesn’t help when you’re testing out just how well the vehicle handles – and you’ll feel guilty every time you track mud or rain onto the floor mats. This isn’t to say the interior is bad. It’s actually downright immaculate, but again for performance snobs, this may not be enough.

The IS comes available with one of two V6 engines – a 2.5-litre and a 3.5-litre. A glance at the IS250’s spec sheet may not elicit much in the way of excitement when you look at its numbers, but it does feel like a finely-tuned sport sedan once you stop feeling the leather and gazing at the chrome, and start pushing the throttle, turning the steering wheel, and clicking the paddles.

Those steering wheel paddles come standard on the AWD IS250, and let you manually control the six-speed automatic, which is both good and bad. The transmission automatically kicks into fourth gear whenever you move into manual mode – which is great if you’re going 100 km/h and trying to pass someone on a highway, but it makes absolutely no sense if you’re trying to pass someone on a city street while in third gear and you need every bit of torque that peaks at 4,800 rpm.

I just made sure to choose from one mode or the other every time I got in the car; always give myself full control, or always give the vehicle full control.

There are other nice touches that make this a fun little sedan to drive, like an orange light that surrounds the speedometer and tachometer at whatever vehicle/engine speed you choose. It doesn’t make the car go any faster, but hey, it’s fun to look at.

Final Verdict

And as enjoyable and truly luxurious as the less-expensive IS sedans are, there are still a wealth of options and packages available to make even the most discerning buyer satisfied. It’s a shame that Bluetooth is only available in tandem with the expensive navi package though. Keep visiting our blog for such amazing and informative posts!

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