Lexus IS

The Essentials

  • Price from £26,226
  • What Car? says: 2 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 336.0mpg
  • What is it? Compact executive saloon that doesn't stand out from the competition in any way.


  • Comes with lots of safety kit
  • Lexus' reliability is legendary
  • Even the basic models get masses of equipment


  • Rear passenger space is cramped
  • Feels jittery over uneven road surfaces
  • Too much road noise
  • Drive

    V8 engine is fabulous; ride is firm and road noise intrusive, however

  • Inside

    Good adjustment and fine all-round visibility

  • Safety

    Plenty of high-tech safety aids and even your knees get their own airbags

  • Reliability

    Lexus is an expert when it comes to customer satisfaction

  • Space

    Rear leg space is in short supply; the boot isn't much better

  • Standard and extras

    No scrimping here: climate control, keyless entry and a superb stereo are standard

  • What's it like to drive?

    With the 2.5-litre petrol engine the IS is a perfectly respectable car to drive, if nothing to write home about. Fork out for the 5.0-litre V8 engine in the IS-F model and things take a turn for the thrilling, however. Body control and grip are good in all models, but the steering doesn't feel as responsive as we'd like, and unless you're whipping round bendy back roads the ride feels unsettled. Too much road noise reaches the cabin, too.

  • What's it like inside?

    The dash is smart and clearly organised, but operating the touch-screen infotainment system could be simpler. Electric adjustment for the driver's seat should help you find a good driving position and there's plenty of room in the front. Rear passenger space is disappointing  a VW Golf offers more legroom. The boot is only marginally bigger than a Golf's too, at 378 litres; a BMW 3 Series offers 480 litres.

  • How reliable is it?

    Lexus cars rarely go wrong and the company regularly shines in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey. The IS is packed with high-tech anti-crash systems and at least eight airbags and scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.

  • Should I buy one?

    Plenty of kit comes as standard with the IS but that's not enough to make up for the higher running costs compared with a better driving BMW 3 Series saloon, for example. Opt for the jaw-dropping performance of the IS-F and you'll face some serious fuel bills - but we still think a (cheaper) BMW M3 would be a better bet.