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New Lexus IS gets a ´HY´5 

IT’S nice to end an old year on a high and that’s how it turned out for me in one of my last test drives of 2013.

The car in question was a Lexus IS 300h – the first IS model with a petrol-engine hybrid drive train.

That wasn’t the only ‘hy’ about this car which was better than I imagined it would be.

The reason for this isn’t down to me suddenly becoming a hybrid fan but is more likely due to the fact that they have improved immensely since the first ones I tested.

The third generation Lexus IS arrived in the UK in August in two versions – a V6 petrol powered IS 250 and the full hybrid IS 300h – the first hybrid IS.

It’s a highly stylish car which gets a more powerful look, especially from the front with its spindle front grille and deep bumper.

Interior quality is also improved and there was a real luxury feeling in the Premier test model.

Driver’s comfort was excellent with the leather sports front seats eight-way electrically adjustable with heating/ventilation memory settings.

The new model is also bigger and longer with rear passengers getting more knee room and the boot now expanded to 450 litres.

The steering column is electrically adjustable and controls on the steering wheel included paddle gear-shift switches.

It also incorporates controls for the superb navigation and multimedia system which on this model included a 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound system, DVD player and DAB tuner.

You don’t have to turn up the volume to dampen wind or engine noise – as there is very little of that.

With its combination of electric and petrol power the model tested can achieve a quite amazing combined fuel consumption of 60.1mpg.

That’s a little less that the SE model’s 65.7mpg due to the Premium’s larger wheels. CO2 emissions of 109g/km will bring company car drivers more savings.

The 178bhp 2.5-litre engine and 141bhp electric motor drive the rear wheels independently or in tandem through an excellent CVT transmission.

Driving in Eco mode, there’s also normal and sport, you won’t hear anything when you pick away gently as the electric motor sends the power through to the wheels.

The engine is ever so quiet when it clicks in and ride and handling is best described as very enjoyable as you cruise along smoothly.

The IS 300h also handles well at speed without fuss with its top speed of 125mph and you can push it up in 62mph in 8.3 seconds.

Quality is abundant in the new IS which is certainly up there in the luxury class.

The range starts at £26,495 with the test model, which included a whole lot of luxury standard features, priced £38,495.