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Lexus IS 300 (2001 - 2005)

LEX GO ROUND AGAIN (some text hidden)


Introductionword count: 90

Perhaps Lexus underplayed the IS300, who knows, but as a model in its own right, this car was underrated by the British public and generally failed to keep them out of premium specification BMW, Mercedes and Audi products. This was something of a shame, as the illusion of premium quality upon which these German brands campaign proved, in the light of various customer satisfaction surveys, to be just that - illusionary. Lexus has consistently trumped the Germans when it comes to pleasing its owners and the IS300 is no exception.

Modelsword count: 8

Models Covered: (4 dr saloon, 5dr estate 3.0-litre)

Historyword count: 178

The IS200 first debuted in the UK in 1999 and Lexus missed a trick by not slotting in the IS300 version alongside it from launch. With just the modestly powerful IS200 to campaign with, Lexus could never hope to do battle with the arrayed might of the German premium brands and although the model sold in respectable numbers, the novelty of its sharp styling, clear-lensed lights and compact shape had probably worn off by 2001 when they finally got round to launching the 211bhp IS300 version. Backed up by a SportCross five-door estate model, the IS300 looked good on paper but failed to capture the public's imagination. Being 20bhp down on BMW's 330i and fitted with an automatic gearbox didn't help its credentials as a drivers' car and the market had moved on in the intervening years, leaving the IS300 rather high and dry. In the spring of 2004, all models received tinted rear light clusters, a price hike and a minor specification upgrade. By the end of 2005, the new IS had arrived to replace this model.

What You Getword count: 240

The tape measure reveals the IS300 saloon to be 71mm shorter than a 3 Series, 5mm lower and 19mm narrower. This is a difference you feel once inside, particularly in the rear, where headroom for six footers is at a premium, despite scooped-out seats that put second row passengers below the level of those in front. Boot space isn't huge either. Seated behind the wheel, you'll notice that the chronograph-style instruments that gave the IS200 such a big showroom wow-factor are still present, while metallic inserts brighten up the cabin. As you'd probably expect from Lexus, standard equipment is generous to a fault. Perhaps feeling somewhat guilty that a manual gearbox isn't available in such a willing car, Lexus attempt to soften us up with full leather trim, electrically adjustable, and heated seats, 17" alloys, electronic folding door mirrors and a host of other fitments. You can tell the latest IS300 from its predecessor by its tinted rear light clusters. Standard specification lives up to Lexus' grandiose claims, the IS300 being fitted with lowered suspension, rear spoiler, halogen High Intensity Discharge headlamps, smoked rear windows, more airbags than a shower of bullfrogs and as much safety conscious electronics as the might of parent company Toyota could pack into its 176-inch length. An optional DVD-based satellite navigation system holds 13 times as much data as rival CD-based systems. For the fact obsessed Nick Hornby-era man, this could just tip the balance.

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Category: Luxury Saloons and Estates

Styling, Build, Value, Equipment, Depreciation, Handling, Insurance and Total scores are available with our full data feed.

This is an excerpt from our full review.
To access the full content library please contact us on 0330 0020 227 or click here

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