Saturday, 7 April 2012


Lexus is quite late on this one aren’t they?
Yes. It seems the local outfit have this habit of lagging international trends in a large way. A number of their models do tend to arrive in Mzansi a few years after launching in other markets. Examples include the outdated SC 430 and the fast IS-F. So the IS 350 is no different.

Then why do it?
I’m not sure really because I didn’t attend the launch, and therefore wasn’t able to ask them that specific question. The only reasons I can think of is that Lexus is positioning itself as a more desirable, performance brand, and powerful cars like the IS 350 could help it achieve this image. Lexus wants to sell many more cars than they currently do. For a brand of Toyota to be outsold by the likes of Volvo really doesn’t cut it.

So the engine is the main change?
The engine is. It’s a 3.5-litre V6 pushing out 233kW, making it the most powerful naturally aspirated engine in its class. On paper this is very good, but in real life it’s a little different, especially when posed against the Gauteng odds of high altitude and thinner air. You can tell the deep-sounding engine is quite willing to brave these odds, helped by a quick-shifting automatic (only when in Sport mode). But the odds are simply too resistant, and so actual performance doesn’t quite live up to the stated figures. Lexus doesn’t currently offer any turbocharged cars so we aren’t sure if the next-generation IS will, or if hybrid is still their only trumpcard.

What about looks?
IS 350 takes from the facelift IS, which means a new front bumper with LED daytime running lights, new rear lights and other improvements. Unfortunately Lexus product life cycle isn’t structured like the premium German brands’, which is 7 years, meaning a facelift every half that time or so. So the IS has dated quite rapidly compared to the Germans. A useful, typical Lexus trait is the availability of many more features as standard, something the Germans don’t do at all. Our test unit for example, was fitted with a reversing rear camera, for which you’d pay dearly when ordering a 3 Series or a C-Class.

What other features are there?
Well, about R60 000 worth of features are added and included in the standard price. Some of them are the satellite navigation system, a 17.8cm touch screen, a USB interface, a front-loading 6-CD changer, power leather seats, metallic paintwork, park distance control with a camera, bi-xenon headlights and Bluetooth connectivity among others.

Full house then.
That’s Lexus style really, nothing surprising there.

Would you pay the asking price for it?
Personally no. The features are great for the price you pay. The IS 350 also drives smoothly under normal conditions, but can be prepped to show some horns around bends or curves. However, this is an old car and its age is showing, both outside and within the engine bay. I’d rather wait for the brand new one or spend that extra R60 000 for a German/ Swedish equivalent.

ENGINE: 3.5-litre V6
POWER: 233kW / 317 PS at 6400rpm; 378Nm at 4800rpm
0 – 100KM/H: 6.5 seconds
GEARBOX: 6-speed auto
TOP SPEED: 250km/h
FUEL AVERAGE:  12.0 l/100km
CO2 e: 223 g/km


NATURAL RIVALS: Audi A4 S4, BMW 335i, Mercedes-Benz C350, Volvo S60 T6

*PRICE RIVALS: BMW Z4 sDrive20i auto, BMW 335i, Audi RS 3, Audi TT 2.0 T FSI, Porsche Boxster PDK


*A price rival falls within R30 000 or so of the subject’s price on either side of its price spectrum for cars over R350 000, R20 000 for cars of between R250 000 and R350 000 and R10 000 for cars below R250 000.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Lexus is boring