Tested: 2017 Lexus IS200t

Driving the “Predator”-faced softy

“Aggressive” is the first word that jumps to my mind as I meet the striking new, Lipstick-red, Lexus Is200t. With striking curves and the enormous ‘spindle’ front grille, the 200t is definitely not a car to miss when passing by. Should the 200t appear in your rear view mirror on the N2/ B1, I wouldn’t think twice to move into the other lane to make way.

In a bit of a ‘spindle’

Yet, the ‘Spindle’ grille wasn’t always used on the Lexus. Changing from the normal design in 2011, Lexus decided to go for a more appealing and dramatic look, one that helps the brand to stand out. It is also fitting, seen that Toyota started off as a loom company.
Many dislike this new design, but an increasing market is starting to like this as it becomes more appealing. This is exactly what the brand aimed to do when it changed designs earlier in the decade. Whether you like the design or not, the Lexus is sure to turn a few heads as it passes by.

First impressions

The IS200t feels exclusive on the inside with an all electric and leather steering column and settings. Starting the engine, the steering wheel will automatically move into the position of previous setting. The driver and front passenger will also have the option of ventilating or heating their seats.

With 3 settings (Eco, normal and Sport) the 8-speed gearbox will adapt to the needs of the driver, yet may have a slight delay to change down/up when needed. The option will be there for the driver to manually change via the flappy-paddle controllers or manual gearshifts. Suspension proves to be a delight as it is firm and responsive within corners.

The competition

Although representing a slightly smaller portion of the current South-African market, the IS200t falls directly into the ‘more exclusive’ sedan department. Needless to say, there is a lot of competition from the top 3 manufacturers, but this is no reason for Lexus as a non-European manufacturer to stand aside. In fact, the Lexus might be regarded as right in between.

Starting with price, the Lexus begins at R 600 000, which in comparison with other luxury 2.0 litre (180 kW +) models will be a bit cheaper. For this, you will also get a standard 4-year/ 100 000km warranty with the option to also take an extended 6-year/ 220 000km warranty.

The Lexus does, however, have a drawback, with regards to its competition and in relation to its fuel consumption. Although the 2.0 litre, 4 cylinders turbo-petrol engine might also look good on paper, it definitely doesn’t set new records. On our economy run, we got a figure of 7 l /100km (combination between urban and open roads). This is relatively high as most of the competition manages a figure lower than 6.5 l / 100 km. The 0-100km/h mark is reached in a relatively slow 7.0 sec.

Another remark is that the 10.3 inch Entune infotainment system might be a bit less user-friendly. It might seem a bit outdated and at some stages, a bit difficult to use as the touchscreen may not be as efficient as you need it to be. The IS200t does, however, come with Bluetooth, aux ports, an optional navigation system and off-course, a very good sound system.

Rear cabin space may also be a slight drawback against competition, but will easily fit a 1.70 m individual. Yet, in terms of boot space, the Lexus may take the trophy at 480 litres. During our time with the car, we easily transported 2 metre PVC pipes with the rear seats down.

Lexus has always been regarded as on of the most comfortable cars and the new IS200t is no different. A soft, yet firm seating design will greet all and can definitely be regarded as one of the best in its class. With this, the driver and all passengers will also be able to set their own ventilation.

Be different

It is needed to say that the IS200t will perform exceptionally well if the powertrain and engine is as good as the handling of this car. Taking it through corners and sharp bends is sharp and direct, yet calm and relaxing. There is also very little body roll as the car is switched into sport.

It is necessary to state that the sedan market is saturated with competition and the German manufacturers are seen to take the success. The Lexus may be a bit heavier on fuel and have less legroom for rear passengers, but it does come into the market with a cheaper price, excellent warranty and above all, proven reliability. Buying the Lexus may also provide a higher selling price as it tends to keep its trade in value, but believe me, the longer you drive the IS200t, the more you become attached to it.

The IS200t, although slightly less powerful than its competition, definitely has enough power to easily overtake any obstacle at any speed as it works its way through its 8-gears. The IS200t is no BMW M-series, yet this is not the focus of the car.

Looking fairly aggressive from the outside, the IS200t definitely proves a different car inside, a bit like a sheep in wolf-skin. If you are in the market for an exclusive and comfortable family sedan, don’t overlook the IS200t, it might just be the dark horse, you are looking for.

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