With the ever-increasing concerns about our environment, hybrids are starting to look a lot more appealing. We might not be quite there in South Africa just yet with hybrid sales being as low as they are, but Lexus has decided to bring its IS Hybrid model to our shores. But why now?

Lexus reports that it is committed to producing cars that reduce emissions and want to afford customers the opportunity to play their part in caring for the environment. Lexus offers more hybrid vehicles than any other carmaker so it is no wonder it decided to add another hybrid to its stable.

The IS is Lexus’s best-selling compact sports sedan and the hybrid model, named IS 300h SE, will be the third model available in the range after the 300 EX and the 350 F Sport. It is a self-charging hybrid which means you never need a charging station. It is powered by 2.5-litre engine which is designed for a hybrid. It works in concert with an electric motor and is mated to an electronically-controlled continuously variable transmission.

The IS 300h produces just 104 grams of CO2 per kilometre and has a claimed fuel consumption of 4.9L/100 km. Being a hybrid doesn’t mean it lacks power though, with the combined power output being 164 kW. You can get to 100 km/h in 8.5 seconds.

Over the course of any journey Lexus Hybrid Drive operates in different modes to maximise efficiency. At rest the engine automatically stops to conserve fuel. When efficiency is at its lowest, such as at start-up and at low- to mid-range engine speeds, the IS 300h will run on its electric motor alone, eliminating CO2, NOx and particulate emissions. In normal driving conditions, the allocation of power is constantly adjusted between the engine and electric motor to achieve the best balance of performance and fuel efficiency. You can also select between three driving modes, namely eco, normal or sport. Each mode adjusts the throttle. An EV driving mode can be operated at speeds below 60 km/h and permits near-silent running with zero fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions.

The IS 300h boasts the same sophisticated cabin as found in both the 300 EX and 350 F Sport. It’s a luxurious place to be and customers will be impressed by the laser-etched dark wood trim inserts with aluminium pinstriping first seen on the RX and found in the 350 F Sport.

It’s safe to say that the Lexus 300h won’t sell in big numbers, it is far too niche a model. And with a price tag of R753 800, some might just opt for a non-hybrid vehicle at a more budget-friendly price. But, it still comes in cheaper than some of its competitors and offers more bang for your buck. Either way, you have to praise Lexus for being brave enough to offer a car that will see so few units sold if only to ensure they are doing their bit for our environment.


IS 300 EX:                    R715 400

IS 300h SE:                   R753 800

IS 350 F SPORT :          R806 400

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