The IS250 from Lexus is part of the Japanese automaker’s IS Series, the brand’s line of compact executive cars that have been continuously produced since 1998. However, the 250 was not launched until the year 2006. Since then, the IS250 has gone through many changes and iterations, and it is still very much a presence on the new car market today. Although the IS Series is considered Lexus’s entry-level luxury offering, make no mistake, these vehicles are high quality and high performance. The name ‘IS’ is an acronym, standing for Intelligent Sport, and that intelligence can most certainly be seen in the IS250. Featuring impressive handling and many technological innovations, the 250, manufactured in Japan, is the perfect automobile for someone looking for a unique mix of luxury and performance.
Offering affordable luxury, the IS Series has proved a boon for Lexus. The IS250 is among their most popular models on offer. Drivers praise the car’s comfortable ride and sharp handling. The sleek European exterior and modern interiors win high marks for design. In addition, great fuel economy and legendary Lexus service make the IS250 a more affordable option than many luxury competitors, including comparable vehicles from German automakers Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The ride on the IS250 is near perfect, and great damping means this Lexus can handle even the most torn and tattered roads. The smallest car in the Lexus line, the IS250, has been criticised for its lack of space when it comes to rear seating. In addition, the low-slung roof means this may not be the ideal vehicle for very tall people.
On offer since 2006, the Lexus IS250 has gone through several generations. The original version of the IS250 got a facelift in the year 2009, with significant improvements under the bonnet for enhanced performance. More recently, Lexus unveiled a completely new generation of the IS250. Throughout the production run, the 250 has been available in a wide variety of trims including Sports, Sports Luxury, Prestige, and X. In 2006 and 2007, the IS250 won the award for ‘Best Prestige Car’ in the Australia’s Best Cars Awards, a testament to its unique and superior quality and performance. Many IS250s can be found at affordable prices on the used car market today, and they are an incredible option for those looking for compact sporty luxury.
Throughout, the IS250 has always been offered with a 2.5L engine (hence the name ‘250’). With the IS Series, the engine power remains constant across all trims. When originally introduced, the IS 250 was equipped with a 2.5L V6 engine with 153kW of power and 252Nm of torque. More recent models feature a similar 2.5L V6 with 153kW of power at 6400rpm and 250Nm of torque at 4800rpm. However, this seemingly low power belies the impressive poke and performance of the 250 line. In addition, it is important to note that in 2011, Lexus recalled several thousand IS250s that were built between August 2007 and February 2009 due to a possible issue with a fuel leak.
The IS250 has always lived up to Lexus’s commitment to luxury. The first generation offered memory leather seats, a choice of Maple wood or faux-metallic trim, keyless entry with a push-button start, and electroluminescent instrument lighting and LED accent lights on the interiors. In addition, these original models came with a host of industry-leading safety features including a Pre-Collision System (a first in the entry-level luxury segment), multiple airbags, and stability control systems.
Options for this first generation included Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, a Mark Levinson premium stereo system, and touchscreen navigation. In 2009, a refresh on the vehicles improved suspension, steering, stability, control, and fuel consumption. A diesel version of the car is also available (called the 220D). The newest generation of the IS250 features paddle-shift transmission, Artificial Intelligence Shift Control, heated and ventilated leather seats, 8 airbags, and navigation.
Originally launched as a competitor to the BMW 3-Series, the IS250 has taken the entry-level luxury market by storm since its introduction in 2006. In that year, BMW’s offering was already in its fourth generation, featuring a 2.8L V6 engine with a lower 142kW of power and a higher 280Nm of torque. Today, the F Sport IS250 from Lexus actually outperforms any 3-Series on the market. However, BMW isn’t the only competitor on the scene.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class also offers a rivalry in the entry-level luxury segment. The current C350 has a 3.5L V6 with an output of 200kW of power and 350Nm of torque. The IS250 still holds its own against even the more powerful Mercedes, offering comparable performance and handling.