In the IS300h, this hybrid power train serves up a suitably relaxed driving experience, with the petrol engine and electric motor working well together and providing its power without much of that dreaded CVT drone. Indeed, much like those in other Japanese vehicles we’ve sampled this year, this transmission comes across as a vast improvement over earlier examples.
The IS300h features three distinct driving modes – eco, normal and sport – with each simply adjusting the sensitivity of the throttle. An EV-mode is also available, but it functions only at speeds below 60 km/h once the battery is sufficiently charged.
Interestingly, I didn’t really feel compelled to explore the IS300h’s dynamic limits, despite the sedan employing the same engaging chassis we’ve become quite fond of in the IS350 F-Sport. Everything from the ride to the steering feel has seemingly been tweaked to render the IS300h as relaxing to drive as possible (something that may endear it to older consumers). The ride is particularly impressive considering the vehicle uses run-flat tyres, which have attracted a bad reputation when it comes to comfort.
With the IS range selling in relatively low numbers locally against its mainstream competitors, there’s no denying this new hybrid version is a niche product. Indeed, it’s going to be a tough sell here in South Africa, despite offering the potential of low fuel consumption (with a claimed figure of 5,0 L/100 km), generous standard specification and a comfortable ride.