Green and mean

Green and mean

David Robinson, group chief executive officer, PD Ports, marks a business milestone by hitting the open road in a Lexus IS 300h
As a current Porsche Cayenne driver, I was intrigued to see how the Lexus IS 300h would compare when the people of BQ Magazine asked me to take part in the review. When the photographer arrived with the car, I was pleased that I’d get the chance to drive it.

The driving experience was put on hold, however, for a quick photo shoot followed by a foray back into the office to prepare for Tees Dock’s 50th anniversary celebrations which took place the next day. When five o’clock arrived it was time to return home, giving me the opportunity to drive the Lexus IS 300h.

From a sideways glance, it’s certainly an elegant looking motor but walk round to the front of the vehicle, and it’s a very different story, with a rather aggressive looking frontend. Once in the driver’s seat, I was immediately impressed with how it looked. The interior was very luxurious and housed nothing that looked too complicated to operate.

Starting the car was simple, with a push  of a button. But this being a hybrid meant there was no rumble of the engine.

If you’re gentle with the right foot, it is equally silent as you pull away. I steered onto the A66 for the long jaunt home. It was time to see what this Lexus could do.

DRobinsonI put the car into sports mode and watched as the dials turned red and the eco dial changed from the hybrid setting into 8000rpm sports mode. I gave it a little gas and was very impressed with its response; the front lifted slightly and I was cruising at 70mph in no time. The multimedia system in the car was brilliant and very easy to use via the mouse type device mounted next to the arm rest for easy reach.

The sound quality out of the speaker surround sound system was crystal clear, with plenty of depth. To sum the Lexus IS 300h up, it is clearly aimed squarely at competition from BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar, to name but a few, in a market where performance, quality, and that certain wow factor are paramount.

It certainly offers that executive feel with a green edge for those environmentally conscious drivers - as we all should be. But at the same time it gives you a sense of high performance when switched into sports mode. For the moment I am content with my Porsche but having the opportunity to drive this car has made me think about possibly getting a Lexus in the future.

The car David Robinson drove was the Lexus IS 300h Luxury Auto - £35900.00 OTR. Lexus Newcastle, 22 Benton Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, NE7 7EG

What Bob says

The IS’s design is all-new from its imposing spindle grille through to its LFA-inspired interior. Its more interesting exterior design features include separate front lamp units underlined by sweeping, L-shaped daytime running lamps, and a low set bonnet that pops up to meet pedestrian impact regulations. This gives the IS a more avant-garde look than that of its competition.

Visually, it’s striking. Lexus have historically taken an understated approach to design but less so with the IS. From the A-post back it is conventional enough with its sweeping roofline and good proportions. But the front is highly stylised, the grille
in particular.

The car had a large spindle shaped grill and an analogue clock dominated the dash. The car also featured LED running lights and rear tube design lights. Three driving modes are featured from Eco, Sport and Sport+. In Sport+ mode the cars steering, throttle, transmission and suspension settings are much sharper. I drove the IS 300h luxury, which has a maximum speed of 125mph, the car gets to 62mph in 8.3 secs and its trump card is its amazing CO2 figure of 109g/km considering the size of the car is totally amazing.

Optional extras include head up display, blind spot monitor, lane assist and driver monitoring system; one area where Lexus are beating its German rivals hands down with it standard specification. The SE model comes with leather upholstery, electric front seats and steering wheel adjustment, a rear camera and DAB radio.

Bob Arora is an independent car reviewer and also owns Sachins restaurant on Forth Banks, Newcastle.