Fleet News

Lexus IS200 SE - 5,500 miles

Lexus

Review

##lex200.jpg --Right##SPORTY cars are all about image and being noticed by other road users, but our long-term Lexus test car was noticed for the wrong reasons before it left our fleet recently. Take wide, low-profile tyres, a wonderful sounding, free-spinning 153bhp engine producing 143lb-ft at 4,600rpm through the rear wheels and then add a bit of snow and see what happens.

The six-speed manual Lexus is equipped with masses of hi-tech wizardry, including a 'SNOW' button for just such occasions, but with just a light covering I became well and truly stuck during a brief visit to the wintry wilds of Bradford.

Even with all the gadgets switched off to ensure power was transmitted to the rear wheels without them spinning, the car was left in disgrace at the side of the road after a period of nudging and slipping and sliding, to pitiful stares from passers-by as smaller front-wheel drive cars sailed past. But before the seasonal weather occurred, all had been wonderful with the Lexus, from the admiring comments and glances, to the sound of the engine and the relatively pleasing 27mpg, considering how it demands to be driven hard.

The question has already been posed by editor Ashley Martin as to whether the Lexus is the new BMW or Mercedes Benz. I for one would disagree - although it has all the right features to win the title, that Germanic feel is still lacking. However, the episode in Bradford should not be seen as a problem for the car - many other rear-wheel-drive vehicles would have a problem in the same weather - but as I was picked up by a friend in a four-wheel drive L-reg Audi 100, it made me think.

Would a smattering of snow be enough to persuade me to opt for a four-wheel drive executive car (for example Audi, Volvo and Jaguar this year)? To be honest, it would be too close to call - after all, once I was helped to a less snowy bit of road, I couldn't help smiling once I gunned the engine. Our long-term test IS200 SE is now being replaced by a Lexus RX300 4x4 - the best of both worlds perhaps? We will let you know.

John Maslen

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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