Our pick: Lexus IS 300h Executive from S$208,800 with COE
Read our reviews of the Lexus IS 300h Luxury and IS 300h Executive
The IS has always been the left-of-centre choice, but never quite on par with the Germans – the previous IS is as sweet-driving as they come, especially in IS 200t guise. It wasn’t as polished in terms of infotainment, and the rear passenger space was always small compared to the Germans.
But the new model, which debuted this year and you can read all about in our full news coverage, changes the game because now it has some real advantages over the cars you’ve just read about.
To start with, the IS now looks like what Lexus has always claimed: sexy. It’s considerably wider, slightly longer, and less tall, so it looks extra sharp with the styling updates as well. To add to that, we find the IS drives very, very well indeed.
Our review of the IS 300h says : “It’s truly an excellent handling vehicle…a real driver’s car, communicative and fluid, and in classic Lexus style the dance truly does feel like a two-way thing.”
And that’s not all: There’s a gasoline powered IS 300 (review here) which already offers 240hp at S$221,800 with COE – compare that with the figures you’ve seen above, and you have plenty more pace for the money.
But Lexus has been doing hybrid tech for years, and now it reaps the benefits thanks to VES updates in 2021 – and that’s how the IS 300h (hybrid model) can offer more horses than equally-priced Germans, while also being more frugal (5.4L/100km stated) – it’s win-win-win for the buyer. Eye-raising when S$210k can’t get you a C 180.
The IS also displays one of Lexus’ best traits: High levels of quality. Lexus interiors are still some of the best made around, with the Takumi craftsmanship ethos on full display – we challenge you to find a thread out of place on the IS.
Drawbacks are the same, but lessened: The new IS has a 10.3-inch touchscreen which is a welcome addition, although it’s still not quite a tech-wondrous as the 3 Series’, while passenger room isn’t the best either. Space though, is not a deciding factor for an exec sedan – if you want more space bump down a segment to the mainstream large sedans such as the Skoda Superb.
With the green credits, the IS 300h is the pick of the litter, and it comes in lower Executive or higher Luxury trim levels with a S$11k price difference – take the former as there’s not much difference between them. As mentioned in our full review, the Exec has smaller 18-inch wheels to the Luxury’s 19-inch rollers, and there are no ventilated front seats nor seat position memory. The seats are also upholstered with Nuluxe, a synthetic leather material from Lexus rather than the more premium genuine smooth leather found in the Luxury variant.
The more important thing to take home is that amidst the backdrop of electrification and green rebates, dark horses can now become front-runners.