UK CAR Review

Lexus IS 200 
2.0S VVTi

 Movie Clips of this Car

Exterior Movie Interior Movie

Lexus  "Toyota"

Oh come on! Lexus is derived from Toyota, re marketed, new name, new badge!
Lexus was conceived Aug 1983. The First models arrived in America in September 1989 the LS 400 range.
In 1990 in America it was acclaimed to be best imported car of the year.
In July 1990 Lexus first appears in a J.D. Power and Associates study, ranked as the  number 1 car.
With lots of pedigree from Toyota and modern technology the Lexus range has become a legend in a matter of a few years, worldwide.

The IS range is the current mass produced and affordable range of "LEXUS". 
So what is it like?

Sleek lines,
             stylish, 
                    well finished.

Having never really looked at or even driven the Lexus IS 200 this test was without any prejudice at all.

First impressions are very good. The car is very deceptive it gives an impression of being a large saloon but that it is not, it is only 440cm long 30cm shorter than a VW Passat.

The interior is reasonably attractive this model is just cloth without the use of animal materials.

Finishing initially appears to be  very good, every panel meets its neighbour with consistent distance and the car does sit very squat. Sporty impressions with saloon car values.

The front is immediately recognisable as a Lexus. It gives an impression of being wider than the rest of the car, the wheel arches are quite wide to accommodate the steering and suspension.

Opening the doors to look inside and the cockpit is quite small which is a surprise, open the back door and try get into this car and you will be astonished, it is very small and not easy to exit the foot area is very small. Even my nine year old daughter commented.
The boot is also very small at only 400 litres no good for any kind of family driving holiday. Brief cases and maybe small set of golf clubs. 

 

Air Conditioning
Air Conditioning
Cigarette Lighter
Cigarette Lighter
Climate Control
Climate Control
Compact Disc Player
Compact Disc Player
Electric Mirrors
Electric Mirrors
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Electric Windows (front & rear)
Heated Mirrors
Heated Mirrors
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Illuminated Passenger Vanity Mirror
Leather Steering Wheel
Leather Steering Wheel
Radio Cassette
Radio Cassette
Trip Counter
Trip Counter

Specification and Lexus go hand in hand. This model is the starting point for the IS range and comes with most of the goodies you would expect. Electric windows are operated from the drivers door pad which for me is the best place, the air con climate control works very well and has a myriad settings and dials to operate. Easily done but I feel a little excessive when one dial and one button would suffice.

The dash is a little strange in that the speedo pod is very small for the size of dashboard available and has a superb looking speedo head with dials and gauges simple and effective but where did the fuel gauge come from? maybe an old Toyota Starlet perhaps.

The sound system is very good quality but for some reason Lexus have placed the volume button on the right and this is very confusing. When attempting to adjust the sound level you actually retune. OK if you own this car for some time but why did they reverse the buttons I found it simply irritating. (though it is closer to hand for those of us who drive on the proper side of the road)

Standard is height adjusting seats with lumbar and recline, very supportive and comfortable they are too, but not for anybody particularly large. So no Sumo's or Burger Guzzlers need apply.

 

Service Interval Insurance Group Safety Rating Smog Rating
10000 12 Not Available Band (D)
Engine BHP CC Fuel Inj.
6 Cylinder 24 Valve DOHC 153 1988 Yes
Cyl Camshafts Valves/cyl Compressor
6 Double 4 None
Top Speed 0 to 60 BHP per Tonne
134mph 9.5seconds 114
MPG@Urban MPG@Cruise MPG@Speed Fuel Type
21.4mpg 36.2mpg 28.8mpg Unleaded

The engine is a straight six twin cam with VVTi. Lightweight Aluminum build, very long and narrow. It produces a conservative maximum bhp of 153 pushing the car to 60 mph in 9.5 seconds. And if you keep your foot down long enough it will achieve about 134 mph top speed.

Driving the Lexus is very surprising as I found it as hard on the road as a Vauxhall Vectra with steering of a Porsche 911.


Once moving the Lexus is very hard on the road transferring feedback in a very mild manner to the driver but it also does not absorb the undulations of the road without giving feedback through the whole car great handling but compromised comfort.

The steering is precise and responsive in fact the whole set up of steering and suspension I found to be a pleasure the car kept me in touch at all times and delivered direction and handling beyond the expected.

The car idles without noise and picks up from standing very well except the gearbox requires constant attention to take best advantage from the engine.

The clutch is very light and the gear change reminded me of an old Mk1 Ford Escort it has a very close H and very short stroke,  The six speed is pleasurable when driving hard for fun. The axles and general suspension setup is impressive. The car does not readily spin or drift without a large amount of throttle or excess speed. This of course is assisted with traction control and electronics. Even the road noise is also very low even though the tyres are low profile with plenty of road contact.

The gear knob is manufactured of steel making it very cold to the hand.
Funky modern appearance though.

Alloy Wheels
Alloy Wheels
Catalytic Converter
Catalytic Converter
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
Disc Brakes Front & Rear
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
External Temperature Gauge Fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Front Fog lamps fitted
Halogen Head Lights
Halogen Head Lights
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Height Adjustable Headlight Aim
Independent Suspension
Independent Suspension
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Intermittent Wash Wipe
Power Assisted Steering
Power Assisted Steering
Rev Counter
Rev Counter
Traction Control
Traction Control

One of the nicest driving cars I have driven for some time. 
Handling is simply spot on no body roll no lunging up and down when accelerating hard and precision steering.

The suspension is fully independent with ABS assisted braking for those unexpected moments and a rear wheel power train. 

The Lexus inspires the driver with a great deal of confidence as it reacts entirely as most of us would wish from our cars. The whole feeling when driving is one of utter control and expectation. The Lexus simply delivers what most car cannot because they are front wheel drive. 
The cars geometry is in touch with is wheel base and the point of contact from the tyres to road is where it is needed at the extreme corners placing the body weight in the middle and this creates a fabulous driver car.


 

Alarm
Alarm
Antilock Braking System
Antilock Braking System
Child Locks
Child Locks
Engine Immobiliser
Engine Immobiliser
High level brake Light
High level brake Light
Locking Fuel Cap
Locking Fuel Cap
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Pre Tensioned front Seat Belts
Remote Central Locking
Remote Central Locking
Side Impact Protection
Side Impact Protection
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Three Rear 3 Point Seat Belts
Visible Identification Number
Visible Identification Number

Safety features are so abundant on all modern cars, the Lexus is no exception.

You can't steel one because the keys are coded and the car will not start unless the key is the right one.
Seatbelts are three pointed in the rear and pre tensioned in the front. 

Impact protection crumple zones and airbags are fitted.

Airbags are fitted in the steering wheel dash and front seats with intelligent ignition to deploy them if needed.

Driver airbag is very discretely placed inside a sporty and great shaped steering wheel.

However why did Lexus use so much plastic?  leather is much better to feel particularly on such a well designed steering wheel..

The dash is not to my taste, it looks like a duvet with lines running through more Lexus plastic. 
The front seat side airbags are disgraceful, they are large plastic rectangular inserts looking very cheap and cheerful.

The IS 200 filled me with thoughts of other cars. The headlights reminded me of the Honda S2000, the rear quarter panels of the new Honda Accord, I even had thoughts of the Volvo S60.

The clocks are a Tag Heuer rip off, the gear stick is a Ford Puma copy, everything about this car in terms of it's presentation is a reminder of something else.

I guess that the modern machines must be designed by machines which eventually will make them similar. 

Even the air vents reminded me of the Mercedes E Class headlamp shape.

In general the car in my opinion is grossly overpriced and not worthy of the reputation associated with Lexus.
The exterior is good and the interior average but it just did not impress. The only strong feeling towards the IS 200 is its steering, suspension and  the engine is fab, but the gearing and the fact that you had to get over 4,000 rpm to get it to wake up make it hard driving in today's congested roads.
Yes the Auto version maybe easier used but it still would not convince me to buy one when I could have an Audi A4 Turbo Sport in my opinion a better car and for less money.

 

For Full data and specifications for the Lexus IS 200 range click HERE

For all Lexus cars specifications and data from:
www.ukcar.com click here.