I have been a very proud owner of my Lexus IS 200 for about 8 weeks now, and as such I feel that I know the car very well, and I have decided to share my views on it.
Prior to my purchase of the Lexus, I had owned a Vauxhall Astra SRI for a few years, but lots of things were starting to go wrong with it, so I decided to go and look around a few garages to see if there was anything out there that I would be interested in part exchanging my Astra for. I had done a tiny bit of research on the internet prior to visiting any garages, and because of the high fuel costs these days, and my travelling to and from work (a 40 mile round trip each day) I was very interested in buying a hybrid car, as the hybrids are capable of around 60-70 miles to the gallon, and are exempt from Car tax!
The slight issue with them though, is that they are expensive to buy, and are often not styled too well, but I was fairly keen on the Honda CRZ and the Lexus CT200 from what I had seen on the internet. I quickly ruled out the Honda CRZ after realizing it had completely useless back seats, which left about 1 inch of leg room for the back passengers! Upon reaching the Lexus garage, and viewing the CT200 I was a little underwhelmed with the styling, and as such started looking around the showroom, when my wife shouted me over, and said 'what about this one'. I quickly responded that I loved it, but it would surely cost too much, but to my joy I then discovered that it was in the same sort of price range as the CT200. I then fired a few quick questions at the salesman that pounced upon us, and I was even more pleased to find out that the diesel model had a combined fuel economy of 55 MPG - almost as good as the CT200 hybrid.
The salesman quickly spotting my obvious enthusiasm for the car, talked me into going for a test drive in the demonstrator car, and it was at that point that he had pretty much sold the car to me!
As I approached the demonstrator car, and clicked the key fob, I could instantly feel a quality in the feel of the door handle and the quiet click as the door released that I had never felt on any car before. The soft leather of the interior immediately hit my nostrils, as I played around with the electric settings on the seat adjustments to set-up my driving position on the thickly cushioned seats. The engine is started by pressing a 'Start' button on the lavishly styled dashboard, and as the ignition lit up, so did a built in Satellite navigation screen in the center of the console. This feeling of being completely amazed, and totally out of my league in terms of luxury and gadgets, continued throughout the test drive, but above all of this the thing that stood out most was the smoothness of the ride in the car. I have never been inside a Rolls Royce, but the ride inside the Lexus is exactly what I expect a Rolls Royce to be like. It rides over the road so smoothly, and the usual hard punch from a pot-hole is almost un-detectable as the engine purrs along, and there is a not a single hint of a rattle inside the well insulated cabin of the car.
Needless to say, that after the test drive was over, I kind of knew inside my head that this was the car for me, but as usual I had the negotiation to get through first to hammer out a deal that I would be happy with, and one that I would be comfortable enough to make the payments on over the next 3 years of the deal.
The price of the new Lexus IS200 D Advance was (and still is) £24,995, and I would have had no chance of buying it outright, and a loan over say 3 years would have probably cost me about £600 a month, after part exchanging my Astra, which is a non-starter for me.
I was therefore interested in the finance purchase deal, where I would hand over my Astra as the initial deposit, pay 36 monthly payments, and then at the end of the 36 months, assuming the car is in good condition, and within the agreed mileage, I have the option of handing the car back to the dealer and walking away, paying the remaining balance to buy the car outright, or taking up a new deal on another new car.
Eventually after a week of bartering and haggling I got the salesman down from £345 a month, to £285 a month, (plus a full tank of fuel!), and so I accepted the deal, and was very happy.
~~~~~ My opinion on the best car I have ever had, and probably will ever have! ~~~~~
Having owned my Lexus for about 8 weeks now, I have been surprised at how much more there is to this luxurious motor than first meets the eye. I will be honest, and say that the look of the car from the outside, is a little bit on the 'bland' side, and I must have seen hundreds of them on the roads in the past, and never really noticed them, due to their understated looks.
As a car manufacturer, Lexus compete with their range of cars, against the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes, all of which are a lot more overstated, popular, and well known than the Lexus. I would happily concede that these competitors are equal, and in some cases ahead of Lexus when it comes to outside appearance of their rival models to the IS200, but that is as far as they go.
As I detailed above, the quality of the finish inside the car is as good as it gets. At night the clocks, gauges and buttons on the dashboard all light up, in a pleasing bright white colour. During the daylight it is evident that the leather upholstery is of an excellent quality, so soft to touch, but extremely hard wearing at the same time. My car has the Ivory Leather inside, and it is very light in colour, and so I was petrified to sit on it at first, especially with jeans on containing zips and buckles, but it still looks as immaculate, as the day I picked it up.
The six speed gearbox is just so smooth, and completely effortless to change from gear to gear, and the car has plenty of power in it, without being too powerful.
In terms of toys and gadgets inside the car, I was amazed at the collection, and I am still finding new things now!
That was one of the good things about buying this car, because in the past I have bought a new car, seen the initial price, and then had to add on lots of extra money for things like, electric windows, heated seats, electric mirrors, leather seats etc, but with the IS200 D advance, the only optional extras would have been larger alloy wheels (which I declined). Everything else came as standard which is terrific value, and the list (below) is exhausting (so please feel free to skip it, as I know some folk get annoyed by these things, but it is very useful to appreciate for anyone interested in buying this car):
Body coloured bumpers
Electric/heated/folding door mirrors
Electrochromic rear view mirror
Front fog lights
Green tinted glass
Automatic rain sensing wipers
LED brake lights
LED daytime running lights
LED interior illumination
Climate control + clean air filter
Heated front seats
Height adjustable driver's seat
Leather steering wheel and gear knob
Rake/reach adjustable steering wheel
Isofix standard child seat restraint mounting
8 way electric adjust front seats
Service interval indicator
Electric power steering
Push button starter
Front/rear Parking distance control
Rear parking camera
Bluetooth telephone connectivity
In dash multi-information display
HDD satellite navigation
Passenger airbag deactivate switch
5 three point seatbelts
Driver and passenger airbags
Passenger knee airbag
Drivers knee airbag
Intrusion sensor and alarm
Smart keyless entry
To pick my couple of favourite items from the list above is a little difficult, but I would have to point out the 'In dash multi-information display', which is used for the satellite navigation, the Bluetooth phone connectivity, the radio and CD functions, the climate control, and the rear parking system.
The Sat Nav is a fantastic piece of kit, and I have used it several times now, and I love the climate control, especially during the last few hot and sticky days when I have simply pressed Auto, and instantly felt the ice cool air pumping out into the car.
There is the option with the climate control to set it to 2 completely different temperature conditions (1 for each side of the car), which again is something that I have used a couple of times when my wife has been in the car with me, because she feels the cold, and I love the car to be ice cold. It does work incredibly well at keeping the 2 front seated areas at different temperatures, which amazed me, because I just thought the hot air from one side would instantly heat up the cool air from the other side (or vice-versa) but this does not seem to happen.
A quick mention about the Rear parking camera - This was something that I had not seen during my test-drive, and I only came across it thanks to my brother!
I took the car to show to my brother a few days after buying it, and I was trying to get into the boot to see how big it was, but the button in the middle of the boot didn't seem to be working! My brother soon found another button at the side, and this released the boot (which incidentally is nice and big), and he instantly realised that perhaps the thing that looked like a button in the middle was actually a camera! We tried it out, and it was! Basically, as soon as you put the car into the reverse gear, the screen changes from Sat Nav to a very clear, coloured camera screen which shows you a fantastic view from the rear of the car! This takes a bit of getting used to if you are thinking of using it to rely on for reversing with, as it is natural to look over your shoulders, and through your mirrors, but it is another great feature which, can show you if there is an object lying behind your car, such as a bike, or a toy, or even a cat, and there are moving lines on the display as you direct the car backwards, which show the area that your car is heading into, and how much room it will take up once it gets there.
As you can probably tell by now, I really love this car, and I have been so happy with my purchase, and the service from Lexus on a whole. I have rambled on for far too long already, but will just add a few more facts and figures that most potential buyers would like to know about, before I leave you in peace:
EC Urban - 44.8 MPG
EC Extra Urban - 64.2 MPG
EC Combined - 55.4 MPG
0-60mph - 10.2 secs
Top Speed - 127
Engine Torque - 2000 RPM
Engine Power - 150 BHP/PS
Transmission - Manual
Gears - 6 Speed
I have found that my MPG (according to my trip computer is gradually increasing as the car runs in. It averaged about 48mpg for the first tank, and just went over 50 mpg for my second and third full tanks of diesel, and on my fourth tank I am currently averaging 52.5 mpg which I am very happy with.
Thanks for reading.
© L500589 2011
Choose WHO you buy your lexus from.... - Advantages: Some dealers not as helpful as others, Inconspicous, if you like that sort of thing, Reliable - Disadvantages: Poor value for money, LEXUS famous customer service a total SHAM, Dont buy a lexus from Marsh garages (Devon)
The Japanese, apparently, are fantastic at developing existing ideas into something new but seldom create something original. Invent a calculator, the Japanese will make it smaller. Make a television, they come back with a 42 inch plasma screen that you hang on the wall. All of this is brilliant for cold, functional devices, but how well does it work when they put their minds to something with a bit of soul, a little passion? like a sports saloon. Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota, formed several years ago when Toyota realised that nobody was going to buy one of their cars instead of a BMW 7 series or Mercedes S Class, no matter how good it was. They needed to create a premium brand car, which normally takes decades, with an immediate presence. This led to the Lexus LS400, which was superb but did not have the brand impact to impress European snob values. Years later it is regarded as a fine car, but people still can?t get past the fact that it isn?t a German limo. In 1999, Lexus launched the IS200 ? aimed at the executive sports saloon market. King of the sports saloons was, and still is, the BMW 3 series. Fine engines, great driving experience, bags of driveway kudos and built so solidly that you would think it was carved out of granite. Nobody in Europe has been able to shift the 3 series from the top of every thrusting exec?s wish list (who said yuppies were a thing of the past) but Lexus were undaunted and decided to clone this winning formula. Just like the 3 series, the IS200 got a straight six 2.0 litre engine, rear wheel drive, sporty, and aggressive styling. Everything, in fact, to make it look like a strong contender ? on paper at least. It was in June 2000 that I joined a company with a pretty generous company car policy and for the first (and only) time in my life I had my pick of a really tasty choice of vehicles. Ruling out the VW?s, Fords, Vauxhalls, etc., I found that I could just about s
crape into a BMW 320 SE and even went for a test drive. It was an impressive car, everything responded as I had imagined ? precise steering, instant brakes, gear changes that flattered, a healthy shove in the back whenever the accelerator was applied and so on. However, there was just one problem ? it was a BMW. You see, I don?t associate myself with the pushy, superior image that I personally perceived BMW still had. I liked the car, but I just didn?t like the baggage ? so where was I going to get a non-BMW BMW? I think you can see where this is going. By coincidence, the IS200 was doing the usual round of new car reviews in all the auto magazines and it really caught my eye. All the reviews said the same thing ? it was like a BMW 3 series, but not quite, which sounded just the job. I booked myself a test drive and arrived at Lexus (Leeds) on a sunny afternoon. The first thing that struck me was the immaculate design of the showroom. Great walls of curved glass, the swirly Lexus ?L? logo scattered subtly around the pristine walls. The cars were fantastically well presented, gleaming like jewels. Being in the soulless BMW dealer was like a black and white movie, but in the Lexus palace I was on the set of Star Wars. It was over the top, definitely ostentatious, but immediately made me feel special ? this had the wow factor and no mistake. The sales people were understated, efficient, courteous and unassuming. I was in jeans, T shirt and trainers, but they treated me like I was head to toe in Gucci. Leading me out to the demonstration car, I appraised the IS200 for the first time ?in the metal?. The car squatted firmly on the tarmac, quietly confident and cool. Subtly flared wheel arches framed 17 inch 5 spoke alloy wheels. A powerful bonnet bulge (don?t read too much into this) sloped down to the chunky grille and headlamps, tinted windows hinted at the mysterious. I loved it. In contrast, the interior is
a riot of vulgar, flashy styling. Black leather and suede seats sat low in the car and I slid into the drivers seat, it?s side bolsters gripping me reassuringly. Looking past the thick, leather covered steering wheel, the speedo and rev counter stared back at me. Distinctively styled to resemble a precision watch, within the face of the speedo are smaller analogue instrument faces for fuel tank, engine temperature, and fuel consumption rate. Drilled aluminium pedals and a heavy polished steel gear knob completed the picture. I loved it even more. Buy it? If it had brass handles on the sides, I would have let you bury me in it. On the road, it was a dream. Not as fast or as firm as the BMW, but it made me feel good. The driving position, the feel of the materials, the satisfying, easy snick-snick of the gearbox, all making me feel like I was the greatest driver in the world even though I never took it above 50. And the engine! ? the exhaust note, they told me, had been specifically tuned to sound great without being too intrusive inside the otherwise whisper quiet cabin ? and anal though that attention to detail might be, it is priceless. I?ll never forget the smooth racy rumble of the sweet straight six, growing to a banshee?s wail just before the 7,500 rpm rev limiter. Big grins all round. Pure and simple fun. Passion. Thrills. It had it all and it wasn?t a beemer. I could let the harsh realities creep in to my memories ? the appalling fuel consumption, due to the engine being not quite as thrifty as a BMW and the car being fairly heavy ? the annoying ping ping ping safety noise that came on whenever reverse gear was engaged, as if I wouldn?t know which direction I was going in! ? the tiny boot? None of that matters and so it shouldn?t because a sporty saloon is not a practical choice, it is a victory of heart over head. What matters is that it was terrific to drive, came with heaps of kit ? 6 disc CD player, climate cont
rol, electric heated seats, electric sunroof, funky door mirrors that folded in at the touch of a button ? which made it boy toy heaven. I still remember it fondly three years later and if any of this sounds like it would be your cup of tea, go and get one. Don?t delay, just go and treat yourself to one, even if it is only for six months ? you won?t regret it and the experience will stay with you forever. Enjoy.
For years, I have owned cars like the Renault 5 GT Turbo and the Nissan 200SX; cars which could blast me away from the lights faster than many of my fellows. But why? Possibly because our testosterone soaked egos require us to find a way of being ?superior? to our fellow drivers. Faster, more expensive, more exotic or just plain rare ? anything will do as long as it sets us apart. Despite having been lucky enough to buy several new cars, someone could always out do me on expensive, or even exotic, so fast had to do. The result is that my long suffering family and friends have been ?treated? to spine jarring journeys on rock-hard suspension, with deafening tyre noise from low profile clad alloys, merely so that I could satisfy this age old urge to somehow ?out do the next guy?. In my 40?s, and still driving a 200bhp 2+2, albeit more sedately amongst the forest of cameras we all love so much, a funny thing is happening. I am in the market to buy a new car again, but my head is asking my heart (or is that loins?) if it can have a look-in this time around. For sure it?s not tartan rug time, my ego still wants its own way ? but I think it?s going to have to listen this time. With a budget of £20-£25,000 there are many exotic and muscular machines I could buy. 2nd hand Beemers and Mercs, gas guzzling old sports cars, Japanese styling disasters with exhaust pipes like train tunnels, maybe even the new Jag X-Type? For this money the choice is huge, but then I drove past a Lexus showroom, and stopped. I spied a silver IS200? Hmmm, never really thought of Lexus. Not exactly a BMW or a Merc now is it? Well in a peculiar way, that?s good. They?re just fancy Toyotas aren?t they? Well aside from a facial resemblance to the new RAV 4, this car seems to exude a quality and solidity that the Toyota lacks. They?re ugly, they?re non-descript. So it ?s not a head turner like an Alfa, but there?s a stylish simplicity, a purposeful clean-ness that
grows on you. Many a car salesman could learn a lesson from the Lexus sales staff down my way. No slagging off the opposition, no flashy banners and graphics, no predatory grin, merely a cup of coffee, and chat about the weather, and he then hands me the keys, explains the controls and quietly says ?I think you?ll like it. See you in a couple of hours?. I find myself behind the wheel of a two year old IS200 SE Auto, that has covered over 20,000 miles. This is a statement in itself - how many manufacturers do you know that would have the confidence to send a prospective customer out in a car that old or with that mileage? At around 6ft tall and short in the leg, the leather drivers seat was electrically adjustable in a multitude of ways ? no problem getting comfortable then. The interior is efficiently laid out, using dark finishes and silver flourishes that manage to look pleasing without offending. It?s all there, climate control, stereo radio/CD, heated seats, rear demist, electric window and mirror controls, indeed a generous list of ?extras? that are all ?standard?. The speedo and rev counter has a Swiss watch look about it, and the instantaneous mpg indicator is a little too fussy, but it makes a refreshing change from euro-grey, retro or predictable silver-faced ?sporty? that many makes seem to push. Duly installed and feeling very secure and comfortable, I started the 2.0ltr straight six to be greeted by one of the quietest units around (for now). Into drive and away to join the Brighton & Hove traffic. Speed sensitive power steering made progress easy, as did a commendable auto gearbox that didn?t jump or strain like so many European efforts (Vauxhall take note). This car feels safe, solid and stylish, it makes me feel good, it makes me feel like IR 17;m going to enjoy the drive and arrive relaxed. Having recently driven a new Mercedes C200 Kompressor for over 1,000 miles, the comfort, ride and composure of the Lexus is every
bit as good, but there?s more to come. Heading out into the country, I was able to explore the cars abilities when making quicker progress. For the enthusiastic driver, the 2.0ltr auto does feel a little breathless when pushed. The chassis and suspension takes everything in it?s stride, even some of the worst road surfaces that Sussex has to offer, it was just that at times the engine was playing catch up. It was by no means harsh or thrashy, it was just running out of puff in a package that seemed capable of delivering even more, given a bigger engine (cue the IS300 which I drove two weeks later). In reality though, the 153bhp 2.0ltr power plant (even in auto guise) is a pleasing balance of urge and refinement for practically all your driving needs. Besides, we?re not all driving gods! Back in town, I was again reminded of the designers attention to every detail. Visibility was great, road noise (despite the low profile clad 17? alloys) was not intrusive, and the switchgear was in all the right places (although I didn?t explore the cruise-control). Manoeuvring was easy thanks to nicely weighted power steering which, although a tad clinical on the open road, was fine when it mattered. The boot let the car down slightly, being somewhat narrower than I?d expect, but then if I wanted space, I?d buy a hatchback! There?s not much I can say about the Satellite Navigation unit that adorned this car. Adding around £2,300 to the price, this is one expensive toy? but what a toy! If you drive for a living, you?d be a fool not to get it. If you just commute to work, and drive for pleasure, well then go without a holiday for a year and get it. The 2001 models now have the UK and the whole of Europe on a single DVD, with route planning, points of interest and many other useful things. Just don?t let it distract you that?s all. When I returned to the showroom, I was both happy and sad. Sad that I had to return the keys to the salesman ? m
aybe he?d let me borrow it for the weekend? Happy that I?d discovered such an accomplished car without having to resort to a Mercedes C Class and an expensive list of extras, or a BMW and the stigma that seems to follow them around. I have since test driven six other similarly prices cars, including a twenty minute plod under the watchful eye of a salesman with attitude in a Jaguar X-Type 3.0 Auto (do they really think that sells cars??) With the exception of its bigger hearted sibling, the IS200 has it all. A stylish but unassuming look that is sporty without ramming it down your throat. The list of standard features eclipses most of the competition, and the strong residuals bode well for what is a very capable car. Servicing comes round every 10,000m and at around 36mpg for the extra urban cycle and Group 12 insurance, this makes for very safe, secure, comfortable and affordable motoring. It is a car that I enjoyed driving, and I enjoyed it for what it was, not what I felt it might make other people feel about me One final word. Yes the car I drove was two years old, yet it drove like new. Supremely quiet and solid with not a rattle or squeak to be heard. Oh, and yes? my heart AND my head are happy with this one. I?m buying one! ------------------------------------------- UPDATE In January 2002 I took delivery of a new 200SE Auto with Sat Nav, and have since covered 1,500 miles in it. So what do I think now? Well, pretty much everything I said after my test drive is still true. This is one very refined car. Build quality is top notch, giving the car a beautifullly solid feel. In the performance stakes it's not going to set your pan ts on fire, but it's easy to make quick progress, and is by no means a tartan-slipper of a car. Car magazines have marked the IS200 down for performance, but then their photo's of smoking tyres and cars cornering on the limit, really do give the game aw
ay - they are still slaves to their hormones looking to wring every last drop of speed and acceleration out of every ride. The sat nav is gorgeous - what more can I say? Service from the local Lexus dealer (Brighton) is faultless so far. On the downside? Well there is a very slight creak from the dashboard, but the dealer is going to investigate. Fuel economoy... well, my first calculation puts it around 26mpg which is somewhat thirsty for what has been fairly gentle driving, but we shall see if that improves. Oh and one last thing... while waiting to collect my car, the saleman handed me the keys of an SC430 and let me out for half an hour! Jealous? =;-) ------------------------------------------- 2ND UPDATE Here I am... a year on. So what have the last 12 months living with the IS200 been like? Well the build quality is every bit as good as when I first got the car, and that's with me throwing 18,000 miles of assorted roads, weather and passengers at it! It's still quiet and comfortable to drive, and still looks classy when it's clean =;-) So here's a quick summary... Still groovy are: - Smooth ride, great stereo, gorgeous sat nav (still the best I've seen), fine handling, and overall comfort. Minor niggles: - Rear parking sensors : Developed an intermittent fault two weeks ago, but the car is booked in for them to be fixed. - Condensation : Got it in the nearside headlamp cluster. To be fair, the weather has been very wet recently, with a lot of localized flooding. Again, the dealer will be investigating this in a weeks time. - Finish : Paint wearing off the wheel centre-caps and off the rear parking sensors. Again, the dealer has promised to fix this. I'd like to change: - Fuel economy : 28mpg is about average, creeping up to the low thirties on a long run, or down to the mid twenties in town with the a/c on. - Alloy whe
els : While they're a beautiful design, they corrode too quickly and require constant care. I know this is a common problem from the Lexus Owners Club, so I'll ask the dealer to replace them. - Performance : Perhaps being automatic doesn't help, but midrange 50-70mph lets the car down on dual carriageways & motorways. Would I buy another one, or recommend one? YES and very definately YES! When I come to replace this one, I shall be going for the IS300 saloon. Ok, so that will have even worse fuel economy (around 26mpg according to the book), but it will give me back the mid-range shove that the 2ltr car lacks. What about Lexus Brighton? Can't fault them really. I'm probably not the easiest customer to have, but they go out of their way to be courteous & helpful, and to resolve any problems.