Lexus IS250 SE at Lexus Hatfield

Adrian Foster takes a first drive in the new Lexus IS250 SE

WHEN I first saw the new Lexus IS250 SE parked outside the showroom of Lexus Hatfield I confess I wasn't sure what to make of the car. Some new cars are great, but you somehow know what to expect. But every now and again you come across one that genuinely takes you by surprise.

I had never even sat behind the steering wheel of a Lexus before and yet I had already made up my mind to pigeon-hole the IS250 as yet another pretend BMW loaded with executive toys but lacking the engineering expertise of the Bavarian icon.

True, the IS250 has a similar-looking taut, hunkered-down nose and wheel arches and the rear light clusters do have a passing resemblance to the BMW 5 Series, at least from the side. But such comparisons do the Lexus a disservice, as I was to discover.

First impressions of the Lexus are good. In the styling department at least, the thrust-forward, muscular-looking nose and the perky tail hold their own. Get behind the wheel and you are immediately struck by the superb build quality of the cabin and the feel of the high-grade materials used.In SE specification, the IS250 comes with 17in alloy wheels, perforated leather seats with eight-way electric adjustment for those in front, an optional multimedia package and a host of safety features.

The quality feel remains when you press the starter button and the 204bhp, 2.5-litre V6 motor zings into life. The free-revving V6 punches well above its weight in performance terms and I had to constantly keep reminding myself that I wasn't driving a car with an engine half as large again.

And this engine delivers in all respects: 0 to 60mph comes up in 8.4 seconds and on the open road the car feels quick. The IS250 is well priced, especially once you take into consideration the generous standard equipment, particularly on the SE version that we tested. This latest model has moved the Lexus a significant step forward and can now be considered a genuine contender in the top-end executive car stakes.

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Article taken from July issue of Hertfordshire Life

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