The last few years have seen Lexus steadily expand its compact IS sedan, adding new powertrains and model designations. One of the new variations on this small upscale model is the IS 300, added last year.
Like the rest of the IS line, the 2017 IS 300 gets revised styling that adds large intakes to the front end, updates the Lexus spindle grille and brings standard LED headlights across the line. At the rear, there are updated taillights and rectangular exhaust tips.
Interior updates include a new analog dash clock, a ?hairline? finish Lexus says looks and feels more expensive and new stitching around the gauge cluster hood.
While this little Lexus is entertaining enough to drive, we favour the turbocharged six-cylinder approach BMW and Mercedes-Benz take with their 3 Series and C-Class models, both of which compete for the same buyers with the IS. But none of the three are the scalpel-sharp driving instruments the 3 Series, especially, used to be.
Despite being bracketed by models whose names reflect their engines? displacements, the IS 300 does not use a 3.0L motor. Instead, it uses a 3.5L V6 (down-rated version of that shared with the IS 350, covered in a separate buyer?s guide entry) that makes 255 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque and comes with standard AWD and a six-speed automatic transmission.
The cynic in us whispers that this is just a ploy to charge more money for the more-potent IS 350 (covered in a separate buyer?s guide entry). But it might be more fair to say it lets Lexus offer a similar variety as BMW does in its 3 Series, two versions of which also share an engine tuned to different outputs.
That said, from the driver?s perspective, we?d rather have the IS 200t?s turbocharged torque and its lower fuel consumption. You won?t save any gas in the IS 300 relative to the more potent IS 350 as both cars? estimates are 12.6/9.2 L/100 km (city/highway).
Standard features included for the $42,950 starting price include 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, 10-speaker stereo, seven-inch infotainment display, power-adjustable heated front seats, backup camera, passive keyless entry with push-button start and an auto-dimming rearview mirror with integrated garage door opener.
An optional Premium package ups the price to $44,850 and adds a heated steering wheel, 18-inch wheels ventilated front seats and sunroof.
An F Sport Series I package builds on the Premium model by adding F Sport-specific styling elements inside and out, one of the highlights being a slick digital and configurable gauge cluster nicked from the LFA super car. Pricing here starts at $46,750.
For $49,100, F Sport Series II trim adds navigation with 10.3-inch display screen, blind spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert and auto-dimming side mirrors.
Finally, the Luxury Package goes for $49,650, and includes niceties like leather seating, adaptive headlights and front and rear backup sensors.
This vehicle has not yet been reviewed