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Recently, I had the chance to check out the new 3rd generation IS range and to test drive the IS350 F sport at the Lexus of Chatswood launch event.

IS350 F sport

Exterior: My first impressions on the new IS is that it really stands out. Like most have been saying, it really looks better in real life. For those of you who don't like the fact that the headlights and DRL are separated, you need to look at it when the DRLs are on and as a unit rather than individually, It would look much better then.

Interior: The interior is nice and modern, much improved over the 2IS. The new 15 speaker Mark Levinson sound system is great, it sounds more crisp and has more bass than the older system found in the 2IS. Coming from the touch screen system, I found it hard to use the remote touch controller for the sat nav, however, it is more responsive than the previous IS. The sat nav screen could be bigger as it is not as big as I expected it to be. The F sport seats are MUCH more supportive than the previous generation F sport seats, It now supports your shoulder and head more, rather than just 'holding you' in position. The rear leg room has increased significantly, however, rear head room has not improved. The LFA dash is awesome, not only does it display your speedo but also your media as well as the sat nav information.

The drive: It is much more refined, quiet and comfortable. The 8 speed sports direct shift transmission is smooth and shifts really fast. Steering is direct but lacks a lot of feedback. The suspension does a good job of holding the road but you don't feel much. The car feels slower to accelerate to 100km as you don't get the neck snapping acceleration that was found in the second generation IS350, but it is still very quick.

IS300h Review

During the third generation IS launch at Lexus of Chatswood, there was too much happening that I couldn't test drive the IS300h or the IS250. So here I am back at the dealership 3 weeks later for a test drive.

Initially, I wanted to test drive the IS300h F sport but the dealership was low on stock! Either all cars were brand new or sold and awaiting the lucky owners to pick them up. The only demo IS300h f sport that they had, sold earlier in the day and was gone! Surprisingly, the Nova white IS300h f sport that was on display at the launch sold before the car was even released and without the owner even taking a IS300h for a test drive. Since the exterior and interior are similar, I will just share my experience on the drive.

Due to the fact that all the demo IS300h have been sold, I was able to take out a brand new IS300h luxury with EP2 for a drive.

I was unfortunate enough to take the IS300h out during Sydney's peak hour on Thursday night, however, the drive was very relaxing and comfortable due to the refinement of the 3IS. There were lots of low end torque to get the car moving off from stationary and during in gear acceleration. The ride was so smooth and quiet, even the sales consultant couldn't tell if the electric motor, petrol engine or both of them were powering the car.

The IS300h, however, lacks the higher end torque and starts to really struggle to reach 100km from a stand still and when going uphill. Though the car lacks the top end torque, it is a relatively fun car to drive. The car handles well to driver inputs (on sports mode) and grips to the ground superbly. The suspension not only does a great job of keeping the car composed during high speed cornering, but also providing a smooth ride on a day to day commute.

If you're a person who drives long distances every day or travel very short distances during peak hours and don't mind power. This is the car for you. It is smooth, efficient, luxurious and most importantly, safe.

Edited by DO IT
Addition of IS300h review
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For Lexus fans who are aware of the third generation IS, the IS 350 F Sport is the clear winner. It's the first model they want to test-drive, and sales and showroom queries clearly favour the 350 over the IS 250 and IS 300h.

But after five drives of the new IS 350 myself, I had to find out ... What about the IS 300h? What's it like to drive? Lexus IS' Chief Engineer, Junichi Furuyama, promised a line that's "fun to drive" ... Does this extend to the new IS?

Thanks to Jake Kelsey and the team at Sydney City Lexus, I had the opportunity to check it out.

On suburban roads, the IS 300h feels and behaves much like its stablemates. The ride comfort is superb, and the drivetrain is oh-so-refined, despite the electric motor being paired with a four-cylinder petrol engine. The car even responds well to brief pumps of the accelerator, a tribute to the instant torque available from the electric motor.

The most surprising part for me was the brake feel. A lot has been written about hybrid vehicles' brake feel, and how they seem disconnected to the way the car is actually slowing down. After driving the IS 300h for the first time, I had forgotten that hybrid brakes are supposed to feel that way. To me, the 300h brakes felt like normal brakes; slightly different to the IS 350 and IS 250, but still very normal.

A cruise along Sydney's M4 shows how pleasurable the IS 300h can be to drive. It was truly effortless driving - particularly since the Luxury model I drove was equipped with Active Cruise Control. It's the first time I've used ACC, so I wondered whether I had accidentally turned off cruise control whenever the speedo dropped under 110 km/h. But then I realised that the radar had detected a vehicle in front of me, and automatically slowed down. I only wished there was something on the LCD between the

speedo and tacho that could have informed me of that fact.

As a driver, I also found the cabin super-quiet, even at highway speeds. Despite the car being equipped with run-flat tyres, I didn't find the road noise any louder than what should be expected. But, as a passenger in the back row, I did find a problem. At highway speeds, there is loud wind hiss emanating from not the A or B pillars, but the C pillar behind me. It wasn't until I got out of the car that I learned that there is an air vent positioned in the rear door jamb, above the wheel well. This is only present in the IS 300h, to provide ventilation to the battery pack positioned below the boot floor. It was an unexpected annoyance as a back-seat passenger - at least there was plenty of room compared to the 2IS!

Okay ... but is it fun to drive? It took a few laps at the Sydney Motorsport Park, Eastern Creek, to find out.


Having driven the IS 350 F Sport before driving the 300h, and the IS 250 Luxury afterwards, it didn't take too long to find out whether 164 kilowatts of peak petrol-electric power translates to punchy straight-line performance. Basically, it doesn't. On a racetrack, the IS 300h feels like riding in an Airbus A380: It's quiet, it's comfortable, and you're surrounded by the best tech of the age. But as the vehicle accelerates from 40 km/h to takeoff speed, you wonder why it takes so long to propel forward. It became clear why some people will favour the IS 250 - just $3000 less in showroom price - over the hybrid.

Having said that, the handling of the IS 300h F Sport on the wet and twisty 1.2 km track was impressive. I knew it couldn't possibly accelerate as fast as the IS 350 I just drove, so I deliberately braked late into most bends. The steering was direct and had great feel; the suspension was impressive; and the safety systems all worked in concert to make sure I stayed on course despite the slippery conditions. The handling actually encouraged me to take the car to its limits, and that was rather clear when I got out of the car. One of the professional drivers pointed out that the brakes were smoking ... the rear brakes, meaning that the Traction Control was kicking in a lot of the time.

To call the IS 300h "fun to drive" might be an exaggeration. But I will say it's definitely pleasurable to drive. It is not only quiet and frugal, but it handles well too. (It would probably do rather well on a slalom course.) If you prefer long drives to the traffic-light dragway, this is the IS for you. If you're an empty-nester, you may even prefer this rear-wheel-drive hybrid to the up-and-coming Lexus ES.

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I'm in a dilemma of choosing my next IS.

Having owned the 2IS 250, I don't know if the 3IS 250 should be significant better than the 2IS or should I go with the IS300h

MOD, you have first hand experiences with both the new 250 and 300h.

How would you compare those two?

Which would be a better buy?

I would love the 350 but it's a bit of a stretch for my money.

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Goosie, it's a very pertinent question. I'm sure there a quite a few 2IS owners facing the same dilemma.

Which is the better buy? The short answer is that it depends on what you're looking for in a car.

You first asked whether the new IS250 is significantly better than the 2IS. If you are OK with the new styling, both inside and out, then the 3IS is definitely as good, or better, than the 2IS in almost every aspect. On the racetrack, even LEX51S and I thought that the new IS 250 is more responsive than the 2IS. Perhaps it was a case of The Emperor's New Clothes, but at least we can say the new 250 doesn't "feel" slower.

But is it significantly better? Consider what matters to you, and what bothers you about the 2IS. Outdated (or missing) nav system? Fixed. Poor rear leg room? Fixed. Not enough boot space? Fixed. Perhaps you want better steering and handling? Well, the 3IS has a stiffer body, revised suspension and smoother, more accurate power steering.

What else is new? If you have the 2IS Prestige, well, consider that 17" wheels, HID headlamps, daytime running lamps and ventilated front seats are now standard. Add the most comfortable seats in its class, split-fold rear seats and improved Bluetooth connectivity ... if most of that appeals to you, then perhaps it's worth the upgrade, at least to the Luxury grade. Then there's quite a number of improvements in the higher grades and options.

Now, let's compare the new IS 250 with the IS 300h. The standard equipment in the Luxury grades for both IS 250 and IS 300h are identical. If you love silent luxury cruising and fuel efficiency, then go for the IS 300h. It will cost you $3000 more, but might save you $1000 or more per year in fuel. But the fact that you even thought about the IS 350 means that you probably love the way your 2.5 L engine, small as it is, can outrun most vehicles and do it with a smooth engine note to boot. Weigh up which one really matters to you, and I'm sure you'll make the right decision.

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To those who have driven the new 3IS F sport 350, can you please share if it has the lumbering take off of the 2IS 250 or is it torquey and will pull away strongly even at low revs.

Also, does the paddle gear shift react immediately during upshifts or take a delayed 1 second interval.

Cheers.

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350 your talking about i presume?

its running a dss box now so its instant but not as quick as the ISF

and i dont know of this lumbering lagg your talking about on the 350

mine seems to pull much harder than my isf at immediate take offs

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To those who have driven the new 3IS F sport 350, can you please share if it has the lumbering take off of the 2IS 250 or is it torquey and will pull away strongly even at low revs.

Also, does the paddle gear shift react immediately during upshifts or take a delayed 1 second interval.

Cheers.

The upshifts are reportedly 0.3 seconds - the same as an IS-F.

You ask how the third-generation IS 350 engine compares with the second-gen IS 250 ... I assume that isn't a misprint. One would assume that a larger capacity V6 is going to offer better acceleration over a much smaller-capacity V6 at any given engine speed ... but let's look at some figures to prove it.

Regardless of the transmission, the new 350 has the same engine as the previous IS 350. So the relationship between revs and power will be the same, although acceleration will be 2-3% slower due to added weight. That means we can rely on any power curves published for the IS 350's 2GR-FSE engine, no matter how old they are. In those power curves, it can be seen that at, say, 2500 rpm, the 350's engine produces 110-120 kW of power, making it more powerful than the 335i's powerplant (although much the same acceleration due to a 100 kg weight penalty) and slightly more powerful than the supposedly "torquey" Audi 3.0 L TFSI engine (and accelerates faster with the 350's lighter weight compared to the A4). This is in comparison to the IS250's engine, which produces ... um ... around 45 kW at 2500 rpm. But the faster shifts and G-AI mode in the new IS 250 definitely improve the experience over the previous generation IS 250.

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Thanks guys for your insights.

I was referring to 2nd gen IS 250 as I have one and thought my next upgrade would preferably be the 350. The low end on auto in 2IS 250 is quite disappointing and the upshifts on paddle shift seem to have its own mind when you are accelerating hard in gears 1, 2 and 3.

Having said that, I still love the car overall.

I have never driven the 350 before but had a go in an ISF once. The upshifts were immediate.

Am looking forward to the coupe but not sure if I can accept the front grille still. Need to see it in the flesh.

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To those who have driven the new 3IS F sport 350, can you please share if it has the lumbering take off of the 2IS 250 or is it torquey and will pull away strongly even at low revs.

Also, does the paddle gear shift react immediately during upshifts or take a delayed 1 second interval.

Cheers.

The upshifts are reportedly 0.3 seconds - the same as an IS-F.

You ask how the third-generation IS 350 engine compares with the second-gen IS 250 ... I assume that isn't a misprint. One would assume that a larger capacity V6 is going to offer better acceleration over a much smaller-capacity V6 at any given engine speed ... but let's look at some figures to prove it.

Regardless of the transmission, the new 350 has the same engine as the previous IS 350. So the relationship between revs and power will be the same, although acceleration will be 2-3% slower due to added weight. That means we can rely on any power curves published for the IS 350's 2GR-FSE engine, no matter how old they are. In those power curves, it can be seen that at, say, 2500 rpm, the 350's engine produces 110-120 kW of power, making it more powerful than the 335i's powerplant (although much the same acceleration due to a 100 kg weight penalty) and slightly more powerful than the supposedly "torquey" Audi 3.0 L TFSI engine (and accelerates faster with the 350's lighter weight compared to the A4). This is in comparison to the IS250's engine, which produces ... um ... around 45 kW at 2500 rpm. But the faster shifts and G-AI mode in the new IS 250 definitely improve the experience over the previous generation IS 250.

hm.. 0.1 on the isf on upshifts 0.3 on downs

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hm.. 0.1 on the isf on upshifts 0.3 on downs

IS F: 0.2s to think about your upshift input, followed by 0.1s to actually do it. Total 0.3s. (So most positive marketing will just say, "upshifts in a tenth of a second.") Downshifts in 0.2s.

IS 350: Official press from Lexus Australia also confirms downshifts in 0.2s. I couldn't find much about upshifts, although a non-verified source also suggests 0.3s on upshifts, and that the only difference between the IS F and IS 350 8-speed transmission is the addition of G-AI in the 350.

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Check out Lexus Australia's "IS Reactions Wall" at http://www.lexus.com.au/static/ISreactionswall

Driven the new IS lately?

MAKE YOUR IMPRESSIONS KNOWN!

1. Post your reaction in this forum thread

2. Click on the link at the top right-hand corner of your post to bring up the "Share post" box, then copy everything after the "?" to your clipboard. (For example, if your link is ...au.lexusownersclub.com/forums/topic/12019-3is-first-drives/?p=42454, copy:

?p=42454

2. Go to http://www.lexus.com.au/static/ISreactionswall/reactionsForm.html and enter your details

3. Click on "Or add a URL"

4. Enter the URL:

http://au.lexusownersclub.com.com/lexus3is/

Then paste from clipboard (e.g. http://au.lexusownersclub.com.com/lexus3is/?p=42454)

Edited by Lexus Nerd
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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi exsg,

Have you bought the 350 yet? If so , how do you like it?

I have had mine for a month now. I am more than impressed with acceleration response and the paddle shifts are immediate. but it must be in SS+ mode. The normal mode is quite sluggish in comparison. I am coming from A HSV Senator 317 KW. So to say this Is 350 Fsport drives deceptively quicker, handles better and surges more responsively even at low revs. ,i am more than happy to say I am enjoying Lexus more than HSV!! :) Cannot fault the quality of the Lexus. Beats the senator hands down.

Geoff

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Hi exsg,

Have you bought the 350 yet? If so , how do you like it?

I have had mine for a month now. I am more than impressed with acceleration response and the paddle shifts are immediate. but it must be in SS+ mode. The normal mode is quite sluggish in comparison. I am coming from A HSV Senator 317 KW. So to say this Is 350 Fsport drives deceptively quicker, handles better and surges more responsively even at low revs. ,i am more than happy to say I am enjoying Lexus more than HSV!! :) Cannot fault the quality of the Lexus. Beats the senator hands down.

Geoff

good chice to jump ships on makers

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

Hi,

I have an 2012 iS 350

I've found it to be jerky, and lags at times, rev, lag, jerk, you know what I mean, very annoying.

I was led to believe that the new is350 doesn't have this problem but reading above it seems it's not as fast either..........any comments ?

Saw the new one on the road yesterday, v e r y impressive.

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It's all in the driving modes people.

After driving my 3IS daily for the past 4 months, I found that it is all in the drive modes. When the Normal mode is selected, it's a standard car off the mark with a bit of lag, but that feels deliberate.

Eco is even slower and on a freeway wants to hold 8th gear longer. But it's a beautiful mode cruising on the freeway.

When Sports mode is selected it pounces off the line and, I think, blows the 2IS away.

It's all in the driving modes people!!!

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  • 7 months later...

I moved over from an audi S4 to a 350 fsport with the TRD kit (Intake and exhaust) and i love it. Performance is quite similar and now i just had the headers changed. Now it is faster, louder and a great drive. I dont feel any lag but i also find using the paddle shifters a waste of time. if you want to drive it hard stick it in manual mode and dont shift it, unlike the ISF the gears wont hold it will change for you at the redlline but it will hold it significantly longer than being in the auto mode

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  • 2 weeks later...

good all round car the 3IS is

sadly it wont blow the doors off a 2IS in a drag though

most of the cases the 2IS will be faster than the 3IS in a straight line fight

all due to the gear ratio

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I doubt that to be the case in sports+ mode.

I see the 2IS in between the 3IS normal and sports mode.

back to back testing the 2IS is still quicker 0-100 and in a 1/4 mile

you do know sports mode on increases throttle response not power output

Sports mode increase throttle response and transmission shift points and suspension

also the 2IS a sports/power button too

in a drag the 3IS cant not hit 5 flats just not possible with the gear ratio its got

the 2IS is350 has 4.09 gear ratio and the final drive ratio on the 3is is 3.13

Edited by ilv1004s
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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 10 months later...

With the IS200t now breaking cover, I'd be very upset if I'd bought a new IS250...VERY upset. I said from day 1 that the 3IS needed more modern engines than the clanky 4GR, and it looks like Lexus thought so too. How soon before the IS350 is upstaged by a 1AR-FTS (IS270t) ?

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Haven't posted here for a while, still have the 2012 is350

Tried the new one ,don't like it. but I do like Lexus so I hope there's a better replacement in the next 12 months, perhaps someone has an opinion.

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