Lexus IS (1999 – 2005) Review

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Lexus IS (1999 – 2005) At A Glance


+Well equipped, reliable and rated highly by owners. Controlled rear-drive handling, rewarding manual gearshift and decent ride.

-Fuel consumption is nothing to email home about. The straight six has to be worked hard to perform. Used prices stayed quite high for a while.

I remember the launch of the Lexus IS200 at the 1998 Motor Show. There was a lot to feast your eyes on because the same show also saw UK launches of the Jaguar S Type, the Rover 75 and the E46 BMW 3-Series.

The Rover 75 and the Jaguar S Type seemed satisfyingly retro (the Rover more so than the Jag) and, while the E46 3-Series was a pre-Bangled evolution of the E36, the one car that stood out as clean, fresh and new was the exquisite IS200.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with it from any angle. And, thankfully, after this year's enhancements, there is still nothing to offend the purist. The Audi A4 B6 and the new Volvo S40 get very close. But neither quite match the neatness of the IS200.

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Satisfaction Index

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Ask Honest John

Is the Lexus IS 300 a future classic?
"My elderly father-in-law owns a 2003 Lexus IS300 Auto Limited Edition. He purchased it from the first owner who had done 17k miles in 2003. He has now clocked up 80k miles. It has a FSH. We think it might be worth keeping rather than selling as it may have classic potential. What do you advise please?"
It does indeed have classic potential, but only to a limited audience. Many Japanases car fans seem to favour either the high-performance models like the Toyota Supra or the quirkier/mundane models. The problem facing this car is its low market value versus its high running and repair costs. There is a chance that enthusiasts will get bored of BMW/Audi/Mercedes saloons and cast out for something a bit different to drive... but that could be a few years away. So rather than focus on what it's future might hold, just focus on enjoying this lovely example.
Answered by Keith Moody
Is a 2003 Lexus IS 200 good value at £2000?
"Is a Lexus IS 200 a good buy at £1999? It is a 2003 model with 93,000 miles and 4 former owners. Very minor bodywork dent on rear bumper but otherwise it looks intact."
Very smooth straight six, but is timing belt and that may need replacing. And it's 14 years old, so use a magnet to search for rust and filler under any repainted bits. Big wheels with low profile tyres may have led to suspension damage.
Answered by Honest John
Should I replace my car?
"I have a 2006 IS220 Lexus - 105,000 miles and just had to have the dual mass flywheel and clutch replaced at £1450 plus VAT - should I stick with the otherwise excellent Lexus or is it time to change? Was thinking second hand Jaguar XF - I do about 18,000 miles annually, and am tempted to go back to petrol."
Won't be as reliable as the Lexus. But XF diesels do like to be used. They don't like short runs from cold.
Answered by Honest John
Which tyres for a Lexus IS?
"I need to renew (or refurbish) the wheels and fit new tyres to my 2002 Lexus IS200. Existing ones are low profile. Would ride and tyre life be improved by fitting different wheels? If so what size? "
Yes, ride would be improved by going down to 16" wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres.
Answered by Honest John

What does a Lexus IS (1999 – 2005) cost?