By Khulekani Dumisa
It’s been a big month for electrical vehicles in South Africa. Jaguar introduced their I-Pace to the South African market and Mercedes-Benz invited media to experience their upcoming EQC as it completed final phase of hot weather testing in South Africa. Porsche also showcased their Mission-E concept which will go into production as the Taycan sports car. The latter two are likely to be introduced into our market towards the end of the year. One question that I have seen a lot on social media is whether these will do well in light of the deficiency in infrastructure. Although not volume sellers, the quick answer is that they are likely to succeed although there is currently a serious infrastructure deficiency in this arena. I do, however, note that much investment is being poured into this space to address the infrastructure deficiency. If you are not convinced, there is a third way which the likes of Lexus have championed for years, hybrids. Recently we got to experience their IS300h sedan and it is a credit to the hybrid space.
The Lexus IS300h was introduced into our market late last year. It is powered by a 2,5 petrol engine and an electric motor. Both work hand in hand to produce a 164 kW of power. The engine is efficient and delivers low consumption rates that often come close to the claimed 5.3l/100km fuel consumption. The car has three driving modes – eco, normal and sport. The latter seems completely superfluous in a car that is aimed at saving you fuel, and although the car proves to be quite agile in that mode, it feels like you are defeating the stately drive that the IS300h was designed for.
It is interesting driving a hybrid car as when you start the system, the car often defers to the electric motor and you lift off in silence as if you are in an all-electric car. Eco mode works whilst you are driving under 60km/h. The car feels comfortable and serene when driving at low speeds and when the electric motor is working alone. The electric motor gets charged by the engine or regenerative power from the brakes.
Outside, it is hard to spot the difference between the IS300h and non-hybrid cars. It pretty much looks like a conventional car except it has blue on the Lexus badges to signify its hybrid status. The IS300h is beautifully designed and although not popular as the leading 3 German sedans in this space, it stands out when parked next to them. The interior is also well crafted and of good quality. The Lexus infotainment screen is generous but takes a little while to get used to as the toggle button is a bit quicker than would be expected. Steering wheel controls come to your rescue although they are barely needed once you master the Lexus infotainment system. The sound system is crisp but AppleCar play is missed, although the system offers good integration with a smart phone. AppleCar play allows for less time spent working the system which is good for safety. Lexus should look into this.
Inside, the cabin is generous with decent seating space in the front and at the back. The boot space is also ample. You will not have issues on long family trips. Families will also appreciate safety features which come standard in the IS such as adaptive cruise control with blind spot assist, lane keep and front collision warning. This and savings enjoyed at the pump make the price of R753,800 seem somewhat palatable. The price includes a best-in-class 7-year/105,000km warranty and full maintenance plan.
Leave a comment