Lexus on a Hy with is 300h
THE future is electric as more and more car companies announce plans to go along this route.
There are plenty of questions being asked about the range of these all-electric models and the plug-in times that will be required.
But one system that’s already here and has improved immensely over the years is the petrol-electric hybrid.
And earlier this year the revised third-generation Lexus IS sports saloon powered by electric motor and petrol engine arrived on our roads.
Major mid-life changes were made to the model but Lexus retained the two power trains – the 300h hybrid petrol and 200t 2-litre 242bhp turbo petrol unit.
The hybrid petrol has been the most popular choice for buyers and this was the model I sampled recently.
It was in 2013 that the Lexus Hybrid Drive was introduced to the IS range for the first time.
This was the best hybrid model I had tested back then so it’s no surprise to me that it has claimed 90 per cent of all IS sales in Europe since its launch.
This Lexus is pitched up against other luxury cars and the model tested had plenty of premium-class features.
The IS 300h hybrid is available in SE, Executive Edition, Sport, Advance, Luxury, F Sport and Premier trims while the turbo petrol-powered IS 200t options are Premier and F Sport.
The test car was a top-of-the-range 300h Premier with an on-the-road price of £39,875.
You’re certainly not short-changed when it comes to the standard spec with entry-level SE packed with goo-dies.
All models come with drive mode select, cruise control, LED headlights and a full safety system.
Some of the standard features on the test car included 18-inch, five spoke alloys, auto folding door mirrors with reverse tilting, eight-way adjustable leather front seats with integrated heating and memory setting, adjustable steering column, satnav, rear-view camera, blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
There was also a superb Mark Levinson sound system with 15 speakers, 5.1 channel surround sound, DVD player and DAB digital tuner.
The interior has a quality finish that includes leather upholstery with stitching, and key changes include laser-etched dark wood trim inserts and a larger 10.3-inch high-resolution monitor.
Designers have improved what was already a stylish looking model, with front-end changes including new bonnet, grille, large air intakes in the bumper and reshaped full LED head-lamps.
And rear enhancements include new triple-layered LED lights.
For motorists who aren’t familiar with hybrid-powered cars, picking away from standstill can feel rather strange.
That’s because when driven in EV mode, using electric power alone, there will be no engine noise.
Obviously, that means no emissions or fuel consump-tion and can be used at low speeds in town driving.
The engine kicks in as speed gathers and the CVT (continuously variable transmission) brings smooth changes, or you can switch to manual, using driving wheel paddles.
Power is constantly adjus-ted between the engine and electric motor according to driving speeds.
The combination of its141bhp electric motor and 178bhp 2.5-litre petrol engine enables this model to achieve a top speed of 125mph.
It is no slouch from standstill either, reaching 62mph in 8.4 seconds.
A new suspension set-up brings improved handling.
The IS drives smoothly and comfortably when cruising at maximum motorway speeds but it also proved to be excellent on some winding, country roads with super grip when cornering at speed.
This model brings a perfect balance of performance and fuel efficiency – capable of 61.4mpg combined, 60.1mpg urban and 58.9mpg urban.
And with its self-charging electric motor you don’t have to worry about any plug-in issues. The stylish IS 300h is a super example of Lexus’s petrol-electric hybrid techno-logy.