NEED proof of how far the Lexus IS range's dynamics have come? Look no further than this video of Australian rally legend Neil Bates behind the wheel.

With the traction control off and the new IS350's drive mode settings amped-up to Sport+, Bates casually drifted his way around tight bends on a damp Phillip Island track and lit up the straights with impressive speed.

While nowadays he is more at home in his old Celica on challenging gravel tracks in the Australian Classic Rally Championship, Bates really put the Lexus IS's new ability on show this week. 

This is a far more rigid car from Lexus.

Wallowy and soft handling from previous models has been replaced by performance which is responsive and sharp.

The new IS range has a larger footprint, and 10% improvement in rigidity. It grips, accelerates and turns better than anything to previously wear the IS badge.

And for the first time there is a hybrid model. The petrol-electric model is $3000 more than the entry level 2.5-litre V6 petrol which starts from $55,900.

Heading the range is the more potent 3.5-litre V6 IS 350 which starts from $59,900.


Model: Lexus IS.

Details: Four-door rear-wheel drive sports sedan.

Engines: 2.5-litre V6 generating maximum power of 153kW @ 6400rpm; 3.5-litre V6 233kW @ 6400rpm and 378 @ 4800rpm; 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol-electric hybrid 164kW (combined power) @ 6000rpm and 221Nm @ 4200-5400rpm.

Transmissions: IS250 - six-speed automatic, IS350 - eight-speed automatic, IS300h - continuously variable automatic.

Consumption: IS250 - 9.2 litres/100km; IS350 - 9.7L/100km; IS300h 4.9L/100km.

CO2: IS250 - 213; IS350 225; IS350h 113. 

Bottom line: IS 250 - Luxury $55,900, F Sport $64,900, Sports Luxury $77,900. IS 350 - Luxury $65,000, F Sport $73,000, Sports Luxury $84,000. IS 300h - Luxury $58,900, F Sport $67,900.

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