Lexus IS250 F-Sport offers effective driving fun with quick thrills

 Lexus IS250 F-Sport  front spindle grille Lexus Malaysia in late June unveiled the new IS range to present a timely transition from the previous IS edition. The first generation IS came about in 1999 till 2005, then came the second generation IS from 2006 until June 2013. Lexus has maintained the IS250, one of the more popular premium executive sedan in this country, and up-the-ante with the IS 300 h, a top-of-the-line version. recently had the privilege to try out the IS250 F-Sport courtesy of UMW Toyota Motor. First and foremost, the Lexus IS range is all about that ‘Fun to Drive’ factor and has always been the exceptional mid-sized Executive sedan that sits between the Lexus CT and GS ranges in the country. Lexus M’sia’s recent introduction of the new ES line-up further defines the premium compact Executive sedan ranges that slot in between the CT and GS line-ups.

The 3rd generation Lexus IS250 line-up: standard, Luxury and F-Sport

Lexus IS250 F-Sport 's recognizable spindle grille

Compared to the former or 2nd generation IS, the latest IS250 takes up a more sportier demeanor and an aggressive stance. New Lexus motifs applied to the front fascia and side profile include the Spindle grille, L-shaped daytime running lights, refined character line on the side and wide-flared wheel arches. From the rear, the IS250 has a contour-shaped step bumper that’s moulded upwards when viewed from the side and the characteristic L-shaped LED rearlights. Of course, the F-Sport version gets sharper ornamentations all-around, including the honeycomb mesh spindle grille, chrome-rounded double exhaust and 18-inch wheels.

Lexus IS250 F-Sport rear profile

Our reviewer certainly had a whale of a time with the IS250. Our IS250 F-Sport review unit was well put to the test through the weekend, but the writer had some doubts on the car’s fuel economy. He figured that only the Eco mode assisted the IS250 F-Sport’s somewhat hefty fuel consumption rate, which ran between 12.0 – 13.0l/100km.

Lexus IS250 F-Sport side profile

The writer felt that the IS250 F-Sport is comparable to a German counterpart, thanks to its effective 2.5-liter twin-VVT V6 engine. When switched to Sport+, the IS250 F-Sport did have the necessary acceleration punch, thanks to a more sensitive throttle response and charged-up reaction. It made overtaking a breeze and the mid-range between 80 – 100km/h was simply delightful. The car just wanted to surge forward, and in fact at sixth gear, with just light taps on the accelerator, the IS250 F-Sport would easily hold its speed at 125 km/h. The tester literally had to work hard to keep the car below the legal speed limit. Tap it a bit harder, and it would hit speeds of 150 km/h and above with relative ease. If you take your eyes off the speedo, the IS250 F would quickly surpass the legal speed limit.

Handling-wise, the IS 250 F-Sport left the reviewer with a mix feeling. The car was doing quite a bit of under-steer, especially on short winding and ascending roads. The traction control was constantly engaging to slow the car down, even at very reasonable speeds (and sometimes on the straights!). On the twisty track up a hill, the writer felt the F-Sport was rather ‘skittish’ on tight and high gradient roads. Freeways, highways were the preferred paths for the IS250 F-Sport, and  it really did push to another level. The compact premium Sports’ ‘purring’ engine sound synthesis through the speakers made the IS250 F-Sport a delight especially when accelerating from standstill and shooting past other cars. Furthermore, the car’s mid range torque between 80 – 120km/h sufficiently added a form of surging impression, whether on straights or out of corners. The IS250 F-Sport did well at speeds above 110 km/h on corners, thanks to its a sturdy chassis and suspension settings. The writer denotes that weight is important on higher speeds, but not on tight corners. A well balanced car should perform well on both prerequisites.

Lexus IS250 F-Sport overall dashboard

The IS250 F-Sport is clearly not meant to be that comfortable, but the premium Compact sports is derived for absolute driving pleasure. It’s an impressionable sports car that is capable of carrying three passengers, though the rear of the car is kind of compact. From the writer’s point of view, it could be a squeeze to fit five in the car, even two large dudes would find it a tight fit with the limited leg room at the rear. Cabin space is somewhat enlarged when compared to the older IS, but still rather limited.

Traction control and ABS on the IS 250 F-Sport were rather impressive, especially in the wets. The IS250 actually engages TC during cornering when it detects that you’re going too fast. The average sedan will only engage traction control or any other driving aid when the car loses traction and begins to skid. The difference is one is supervising the way you drive, while the other is getting control of the vehicle for you when you have momentarily lost it. On the other hand, the ABS in this Lexus is more like your mother/wife constantly telling you that you are driving too fast. But they will do more than tell you as they will actively engage the brakes for you as well. But the best part is that they are better at controlling the car in wet conditions, to keep it under control than you are. The car wants you to have fun, but more of a supervised fun.

Lexus IS250 F-Sport LF-A digital instrument display

The suspension setup on the IS 250 F-Sport, can be automatically adjusted on three settings, which is normal, sports and sports + or Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS). During the review, the IS250 F-Sport’s suspension settings did engage to hard when the knob was switched to Sport+, with the LF-A type instrument meter turning red, to signify that the car’s ready to kick it.

Lexus IS250 F-Sport

Lexus IS250 F-Sport price and availability

The IS250 F-Sport is priced at RM 333,333. We would say that the price is a bit hefty for a car that is shy of 40bhp from its similar rivals. Maybe the basic IS model the IS 250 or the IS 250 luxury priced at RM 269,900 and RM 299,900 respectively, would be a better option, if you can do without the additional exterior accessories or gadgets. Furthermore, the Lexus IS250 F-Sport is a well built driver’s car that provides sufficient excitement and engaging driving dynamics. This sporty F-Sport is really meant for the few unique individuals, but not so much for the common Executives.