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Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017 review

Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
EXPERT RATING
7
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the new Lexus IS200t F Sport with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the new Lexus IS200t F Sport with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Long ago, the Lexus IS overtook the LS as the most recognisable Lexus on the road. With strong, angular styling, sharp pricing and spec against the Germans, and a 2.0-litre straight six engine, it seems like Lexus sold a million of them and only one of them has broken down irretrievably and is now being used to prop up the Harbour Bridge, such was its solid build quality.

Explore the 2016-2017 Lexus IS Range

Lexus IS 2016 review | first drive video
Lexus IS300h 2016 review | snapshot
Lexus IS350 2016 review | snapshot
Lexus IS200t Luxury 2017 review | road test
Lexus IS350 Sport Luxury 2017 review | road test

Hell, Lexus was even able to hide for a while that it was a rebadged Japanese Toyota Altezza, partly because Toyota didn't do funky rear-wheel drive sedans outside of Japan. The IS took the brand into many more homes than the ES or GS could ever hope to because it looked like it was a Lexus.

We're now three generations and one facelift into the IS and the big selling IS250 is no more, replaced some time ago by a 2.0-litre turbo four and renamed IS200t. You can now get an F Sport version, too, just like you can buy an Audi with S Line or a BMW with M Sport.

That turbo engine hopefully addresses one of the problems with the entry-level IS sedan - it was always a little on the slow side...

Lexus IS 2017: IS200t F Sport
Safety rating
Engine Type2.0L turbo
Fuel TypePremium Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats
Price from$41,990

Is there anything interesting about its design?   7/10

The current IS is by far the most distinctive of the three generations. With a couple of exceptions, it is a terrific looking car. It looks long and low slung, like the best sporting sedans, with an almost Maserati-like approach to its proportions. The loud and proud Lexus spindle grille - the object of such derision when it first arrived - looks utterly fantastic and draws attention away from the odd, squished headlights.

it is one of most comfortable cars you can buy, for both front and (short) rear seat passengers.

Inside is less impressive, with a weird stacked dash and integrated screen. The materials are top notch, however and while the designers have tried to do something interesting with the dash design, there are better ideas out there they might want to consider next time around.

  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.
  • Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson. Lexus IS200t F Sport 2017. Image credit: Peter Anderson.

How practical is the space inside?   6/10

The IS's cabin is probably the weakest point of the car, with limited storage for your bits and bobs. Front and rear seat passengers do get cupholders for a total of four, but the rear doors don't have bottle holders, limiting you to the two upfront.

On hot days like Sydney's 2017 summer, those cooled seats are heaven-sent.

The centre console bin is small and is the only place for your phone apart from the cupholders, which isn't an ideal spot, let's face it. The boot is a German-matching 480 litres and you can split fold the seats for more room.

Having said that, it is one of most comfortable cars you can buy, for both front and (short) rear seat passengers. The front seats are especially good and on hot days like Sydney's 2017 summer, those cooled seats are heaven-sent.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?   7/10

The IS range kicks off with the 200t Luxury at $59,340, closely followed by the hybrid 300h, the V6-powered 350 ($65,390) and then the $73,540 200t F Sport. Pricing then heads up into the mid-$80,000s for the IS350 Sports Luxury.

The 200t F Sport's almost $74,000 price tag fetches you a car with 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, a hefty safety package, electronic dampers, auto LED headlights, auto wipers, electric heated and cooled front seats, digital instruments, sat nav, keyless entry and start, leather (some real, some not) interior, variable ratio steering rack and power everything.

The 10-speaker stereo is Mark Levinson branded and is controlled by Lexus' own connectivity and sat nav suite. The sound is fantastic, the control system less so. Commands come from a few shortcut buttons (good) and weird mouse-type arrangement on the centre console that is largely infuriating. The less said about the on-screen graphics, the better - they're low-res and on occasions, amateurish. You can connect via USB or Bluetooth but the app integration is limited. You also get an at-first unfathomable DAB+ radio.

Once on boost, the engine is smooth with a lovely flat torque curve.

Options are limited to $1500 for premium paint, which makes up eight out of ten colours.

Out of interest, $74,000 gets you a reasonably well equipped BMW 330i M Sport or Luxury Line and a few hundred dollars more will get you into a hybrid 330e M Sport. Audi will cheerfully sell you a loaded-up A4 quattro 2.0 TFSI and Mercedes might be tempted to sell you a C350e. Infiniti will probably throw themselves at you with a V6 twin-turbo Q50 Red Sport rocketship, or at the very least a V6 Hybrid Premium.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?   8/10

The 200t denotes a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder under that long bonnet, delivering 180kW and 350Nm to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission. This translates to seven seconds dead to 100km/h for the 1680kg sedan, which isn't hanging around.

How much fuel does it consume?   6/10

Try as we might - and we did - we couldn't get at all close to the claimed combined fuel figure of 7.5L/100km. We didn't even hit the standard plus 30%, but we did get 12.2L/100km. That's a fairly solid miss.

 

What's it like to drive?   7/10

After having the good fortune to step out of the IS350 and into the 200t, it was immediately apparent that the 200 is the better car. For a start, it feels so much more nimble. Sure, it doesn't have the seamless urge of that silky V6, but the 2.0 turbo does a fine impression of a bigger engine. Once on boost, the engine is smooth with a lovely flat torque curve. If you're off boost, though, you're in a bit of trouble - the eight-speed is reluctant to downshift and needed prodding from the steering wheel mounted paddles on occasion.

As with just about every Lexus, the ride is impeccable and refinement virtually unmatched in the class.

From a driving point of view, the fundamentals are better - less weight over the front wheels meaning the steering feels better, it turns in better and it moves more fluidly, which is impressive because the 350 isn't a slouch. Even the dashboard is better. The 350 has a traditional two clock arrangement where the 200t has a single dial in the middle that is digitally remastered. Press a button and it slides to the side to provide extra info on your choice of the available data. It leaves a fair amount of black space but it's easier to read and doesn't suffer as badly from reflections.

As with just about every Lexus, the ride is impeccable and refinement virtually unmatched in the class. There's something about the way a Lexus knocks the edge of all but the biggest bumps, sails over speed bumps and handles imperfections that is hard to beat and hard to find unless you're spending really big bucks. The adaptive damping never feels like it's doing anything which is exactly the point - even when switching to Sport+, there's an ease to the ride without it feeling loose.

You'll barely know the engine is there, and the way the transmission slurs around the gears means non-stop serenity.

Warranty & Safety Rating

Basic Warranty

4 years / 100,000 km warranty

ANCAP Safety Rating

ANCAP logo

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?   8/10

Standard safety kit includes eight airbags (including knee bags for front seat occupants), ABS, stability and traction controls, blind spot sensor, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, brake assist and driver attention detection.

The IS scored the maximum available five ANCAP stars when it was re-tested in October 2016.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?   7/10

The Lexus range comes with a four year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist for the duration. Servicing is every 15,000km or twelve months, whichever comes first.

Sadly, there's no fixed or capped-price servicing regime, not even a pre-pay option like the stingy Germans. Lexus will only commit to indicative pricing, although the first service at 15,000km is priced keenly - it's free.

When you buy a Lexus, they don't like to let go of you. My father-in-law's original IS 200 is still fetched by the dealership - should he so desire - for its annual service. If he chooses to darken the dealership door himself, he'll drive out in a loan car. Nobody has ever stalked him at the dealership demanding he consider a new one.

Verdict

The Lexus range comes with a four year/100,000km warranty with roadside assist for the duration. Servicing is every 15,000km or twelve months, whichever comes first.

Sadly, there's no fixed or capped-price servicing regime, not even a pre-pay option like the stingy Germans. Lexus will only commit to indicative pricing, although the first service at 15,000km is priced keenly - it's free.

When you buy a Lexus, they don't like to let go of you. My father-in-law's original IS 200 is still fetched by the dealership - should he so desire - for its annual service. If he chooses to darken the dealership door himself, he'll drive out in a loan car. Nobody has ever stalked him at the dealership demanding he consider a new one.

The IS200t seems the pick of the IS bunch, despite pricing on par with a couple of the IS350s. It's a worthy alternative to the usual suspects, with its own look, feel and approach to luxury motoring. In fact, it's far more a luxury car than sports sedan, but manages to do both well. In the end, a BMW will edge it for handling and overall chassis grace, the Merc has that badge and the Audi is all-wheel drive and bang-up-to-date.

But none of them can touch the Lexus for after-sales service nor are any of them quite as well put together as the Japanese-built IS. It may not be as fast or as fun, but it's very, very good.

Click here for more 2017 Lexus IS200t F Sport pricing and spec info.

Can Lexus tempt you away from the German triumvirate with its slightly different approach? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Pricing Guides

$49,800
Based on 29 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$39,990
Highest Price
$58,888

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
IS200t F Sport 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $41,990 – 58,888 2017 LEXUS IS 2017 IS200t F Sport Pricing and Specs
IS300h F Sport Hybrid 2.5L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $49,940 – 57,420 2017 LEXUS IS 2017 IS300h F Sport Hybrid Pricing and Specs
IS200t Luxury 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $39,990 – 43,990 2017 LEXUS IS 2017 IS200t Luxury Pricing and Specs
IS300h Luxury Hybrid 2.5L, Hyb/PULP, CVT AUTO $43,560 – 50,710 2017 LEXUS IS 2017 IS300h Luxury Hybrid Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Design7
Practicality6
Price and features7
Engine & trans8
Fuel consumption6
Driving7
Safety8
Ownership7
Peter Anderson
Contributing journalist

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Pricing Guide

$41,990

Lowest price, based on 5 car listings in the last 6 months

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