2009-Current Lexus IS
Japanese mainstream brands have their luxury divisions with Toyota having Lexus, Honda owning Acura, and Nissan with their Infiniti. The advantage is that parts, engines, and platforms can be shared while at the same time targeting the upper class market. Downside is that some keen eyed enthusiasts would dismiss them as tarted up models and some image problem.
One product of the luxury division creation is the Lexus IS, whose first generation model started life in 1998 as either the Lexus IS or the Toyota Altezza. Jump in to the second generation which had its launch in the Geneva Motor Show in March 2005 and sales commenced in September of that year. Either available in sedan or convertible and in a slew of engines (from 4 to 8 cylinders and an option of gasoline or diesel) and transmissions (6 speed manual and 6 or 8 speed automatic), the IS did battle with the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes Benz C Class. An F-Sport variant was made available in 2007 as a response to BMW's M performance division and Benz's AMG. By this time, a third generation model is already for sale with a wide range of engine choices.
Lexus Manila brought in the facelifted model as the part of their Philippine arrival back in 2009. The IS line-up accommodated the sedan and a convertible (this will have its own review soon) launched later that year. Just last May, Lexus pulled their strings for the third generation IS available in normal and F Sport flavors.
Value and Costs
Want something enjoyable to drive but hate the exorbitant maintenance prices of the Germans, then the Lexus IS is a godsend, with prices below P2M for good second hand units. All you need is a keen eye if buying from a private owner or a dealer, but I recommend checking out the units in Lexus Manila since they are certified for your peace of mind.
Being Japanese, it has some advantages when it comes to maintenance costs but having one under your garage is similar to the top of the line Camry. While there are parts shared with some Toyota models, insist on original Lexus pieces. They may be expensive, but totally worth it especially the dealership visits will give you excellent service.
Exterior and Interior
Sharp edges with some arrow lines are the main attraction, but you might not know that the wheelbase is wide thanks to the wheels pushed to the sides. Quality wise, it has all the gaps enclosed and the paint finish is exemplary but you'll say to yourself that it is just an ordinary Japanese sedan. While it can stare heads, a German one will have more just like the Lexus is Enrique Magalona while a German is Daniel Padilla (sorry fangirls).
With this vehicle having a retail price of P2.9M when it was new, it must have a high quality interior. And in the case of the Lexus, it does the task well and the interior is geared towards the driver. Since this is a driver biased machine, fake timber is thrown out of the options list and standard is an all black dashboard with metallic trim. While quality is tops, the buttons and switch gears look and feel they are from Toyotas, which is not a good thing. Another bad comment about the interior is that the position of controls are all situated in the middle that are placed dangerously close to one another. Drivers have to make do with a low seating position that can hamper visibility and those with average built need to adjust their seat so that they can avoid hitting their heads. Rear passengers wouldn't enjoy their places due to the driver's seat being adjusted for their convenience.
Among the slew of engines introduced, the sole option for the Philippine market is the 3GR-FE 2,994cc V6 with 228hp at 6,200rpm and 300Nm at 4,400rpm. Since this is shared with the Camry, it has a strength when it comes to cruising but you can be wild by pushing the throttle though the progress is a build-up process with a quiet engine note.
While it has a stiff body, independent suspension on all sides, and powerful brakes, the IS isn't enjoyable to drive especially at speeds above 100km/h but for city duties, this is an able performer thanks to its light steering. It may be comfortable, but road imperfections can spoil the fun .
The Lexus has everything that the Germans have for less, but in this case, the Germans succeed on making their cars enjoyable to drive backed up with luxury. The IS can be a great buy, but also check out similar competitors since you might love them more especially when it comes to performance and driving.
- Standard equipment
- Sharp looks
- High levels of quality
- Interior space is not good
- Driving dynamics not up to German levels
- Unsettled ride
The Pick: IS300
Engine: 2,994cc 3GR-FE V6 gasoline
Power: 228hp @ 6,200rpm
Torque: 300Nm @ 4,400rpm
Fuel Consumption: 6-8km/L (city), 8-10km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Suspension: Front independent double wishbone, rear independent multi-link
Price (New): P2,938,000
Price (Now): P1,900,000
Rivals: BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Mercedes Benz C Class
On Sale: 2009-2013
Lexus Manila - (02) 856-5050