The new Lexus IS has a very distinctive look and is sporty as well as being fuel efficient. There are two models; the petrol (IS250) and the hybrid (IS300h).

Although Lexus is looking to compete with the BMW and Mercedes equivalent models, the IS has something different to offer. The latest hybrid engine has the lowest emissions in this class with only 99g/km. The body styling has been updated to make it sportier and it handles better on the road than previous models due to the steering and suspension which have been changed.

The car has lots of grip and excellent steering with the ability to corner well. Improved braking makes it feel very stable but where the model falls down is in the engines which can be noisy. The hybrid engine in particular is slow to react and the IS 250 V6 engine is a bit of a let down as it does not feel as sporty as you would expect.

Inside the cabin, the IS has spacious and comfortable accommodation and Lexus has included cruise control and climate control in all models as standard. The rear of the car has more leg room and the top range model also has leather seats all round and a high end stereo. The interior is well built and Lexus always scores well for reliability coming 11th in the last survey.

The model scored a full five stars in Euro NCAP tests with a very high score for full adult occupancy. Although the boot is smaller than the equivalent BMW, you can fold down the rear seats for extra luggage space. The F Sport model also has 18 inch alloys and a sliding digital speedometer. All entry level cars get automatic headlights, digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, climate control and alloys. Premier models are fitted with a 7 inch satellite navigation system, electric leather seats and a rear camera for parking.

Lexus is not offering a diesel engine in this range so the choice is petrol or the hybrid. The Lexus IS300h (hybrid) will return 65.7 mpg with only 99g/km in emissions making the road tax very low. The petrol version will only give 32 mpg making it much more expensive to run. So, buyers for companies may opt for the hybrid as Lexus claims that over a period of three years it will be cheaper to run than the equivalent BMW. The battery has been designed to last the lifetime of the car and hybrids are cheaper to service.

If the idea of a hybrid car is appealing and you decide to look at the Lexus IS, then a set of excellent car mats should be purchased if they are not supplied from the dealer to enhance the interior of the vehicle and help protect its sellon value. Quality car mats from dealerships are more expensive than from suppliers like My Car Mats, but are important to help protect in interior of your vehicle, stop your feet sliding whilst driving and will negate accelorator pedals getting stuck under non-tailor made mats.

Article written by Arthur Wilson, freelance blogger and journalist specialising in the auto industry.