• Mar 13th 2006 at 3:30PM
  • 25
Toyota, in addition to possibly upstaging General Motors as the world’s largest automaker this year, seems intent on challenging the Germans in their niche of luxury sports vehicles.

Mark Maynard of the Copley News Service recently test drove and compared the Lexus IS 250 and the BMW 325, the German company’s entry level sport sedan.

The biggest difference, noted Maynard, between the two cars is in their handling. He found the clutch and gearshift more limber in the IS but the BMW’s gate was more precise. The IS functioned best at higher rpms while the BMW provided more power with more gear ratios at lower rpms.

[More after the jump]

[Copley News Service via the Jamaica Observer and Eopinions.com]
Covering other aspects of the two vehicles, he found both were similarly priced with similar interior quality. The 325i, which tended to be a little more technically complicated compared to the IS (e.g., start system) also had such features as 'hill-holding' to stop the car from rolling on an incline while the clutch was pressed down.

Michael Karesh, one of the lead reviewers of Eopinions.com's Car section, sampled the higher trims of both vehicles. He did not want to like the BMW 330i and, as he bluntly put it, ‘I went into this test drive looking to do some damage.’ But the BMW handled his impromptu testing grounds—uneven pavement, tar strips, and tight curves--easily without tire squeal. Understeer and oversteer were just hinted during his tests. Same with road feel, which he found was just hinted through the steering system, enough to know it’s there.

Similar to Maynard, Karesh found the IS 350’s major power came at high rpms. But it was no slough at lower revs, though. His biggest issue revolved around some of the electronic “nannies” in the IS. He found the stability controls cutting in earlier and at lower speeds than the BMW 330 on similar conditions.

Karesh also reviewed the IS 250 in the review as well.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      Momber - cost of ownership for the first 4 years goes to BMW as they cover ALL service - including brakes, rotors, etc. My e46 330i cost me $0 for service over the past 3 years. I've purchased tires and that's it.

      My e90 will have the same service plan, thus for the first 3-4 years my car's lease payment and tire replacement will be the only cash outlay I'll have.

      Aki, have you ever been to a BMWCCA event? It's packed to the gills with Bimmer drivers throwing their 30-40-50-100k cars into corners at insane speeds. Yes, many poseurs buy 3 series cars - usually they're the ones with automatics - but there's also a very sizable percentage who drive their cars very hard constantly. There's a reason 20% of 3 series cars are manuals...enthusiasts buy the car. We usually have to order the car as we want it too.
      • 9 Years Ago
      TO BGDC:

      "Ever heard this saying: It's more fun to go fast through corners with a slow car than it is to go slow through corners with a fast car?"

      - No. I've never heard of that. Where did you hear that?

      "I'm guessing you've never seriously driven a car. I'm not talking about inanely mashing your foot on the gas - i'm talking about driving with an eye toward keeping your speed into a corner so that you can leave it sooner pointed in the right direction and at WOT. Lean, squat, dive, roll, understeer, engine control - these things matter to drivers."

      - I don't race my car to work. Where do you live? On the Formula 1 racetrack? All I do is drive and drive safe. I don't speed around like a maniac who believe's he's racing against every car on the street. You must be fresh out of high school or ... worse ... another college kid whose world revolves around FAST AND THE FURIOUS!

      I'm pretty certain the folks who buy BMWs and Lexuses don't always drive at 100+ mph. When you're in the city, going 50 is bad enough.
      • 9 Years Ago
      still can't decide.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I just don't get Lexus' logic w/ its 3 series competitor. The 3-series gets its prestige from its performance--so why do they put up annoying eletronic nannies, and an underwhelming automatic transmission?

      That being said, I find these 3-series comparisons a bit pointless. 99% of the 3-series drivers on the road care nothing about performance, whether or not the nose tucks in when lifting the throttle in turns--or even knows what "understeering" is. People mostly buy them for bragging rights, the "haha I have a luxurious car that *can* move well in corners." For the average 3-series Joe, it doesn't make a difference in the world whether he's driving an IS, 3-series, G35 or A4, except for how it feels when crusing 60 mph on the freeway.

      In that sense, auto journalists cater to a different audience than what makes most of these cars sell.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I take that last comment back. Lexus knows exactly what it's doing, and it's smart.

      How many BMW 3-series owners would actually put the car to the limit where the electronic stabilizer kicks in? Very few. Hence criticism of overly oppressive nannies are irrelevant to most buyers. If you're paid to abuse a car at corners, you don't hesistate taking a BMW hard through a track.

      If you paid $35-40k though, you're more than likely not going to take your Bimmer through twisties in speeds of 60+mph. Lexus probably knows this, and doesn't care how it feels when you slam the brakes into a turn. Then again, since BMW holds its rep of being the best performer, that'd be enough for latte-drinking professionals to opt for the 3-series. Need to have that extra bit of prestige, else it'd tarnish your iPod-backed rep.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Aside from the upcoming 3-series coupe, all of Chris Bangles' designs have been horrendous. Thought the 5 series would grow on me, but now I'm just plain disliking it. 3 series looks a bit frumpty too. At least there's always Audi...
      • 9 Years Ago
      No contest for me.

      I drove the IS350 and found it numb and disconnected from the road. The handling was soft and the car wallowed on corners. tons of power. Additionally, getting an IS350 with the sport package is almost impossible - Lexus has a Byzantine ordering system that requires a deposit and takes months. Another major problem with the car: automatic transmission only. I'm a manual driver and I don't like autos - especially slow-to-react automanuals like the Lexus. At 65 I tried to drop the gears from 6th to 4th...this took SEVERAL seconds. That's unacceptable for a sports sedan. One last thing, because of packaging, to get the IS350 with sport and bixenons i'd have to pay about 40k.
      The 330i...Sublime handling. Point the car and it responds. 6 speed is still sloppy but it's better thsn using an automatic.
      I ordered an e90 330i with leather, 6 speed, sports package, park distance, xenons, moon, power goodies and comfort access for...35.7k (41k msrp). I pick it up in Europe in April.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Everyone is abandoning free service, in a year or two if they haven't already. Many owners seem to appreciate it. But the manufacturers have concluded that it wasn't boosting sales or prices enough to justify its cost.
      • 9 Years Ago

      "The Lexus wins without a doubt when it comes to looks compared to the current 3 series. Hopefully BMW will fix that very soon..."

      -I knew at some point I would agree with you! The Lexus wins on looks all over the (3) Series, the back of the new (3) Series remides me of a (of all thing) Kia Rio... I have seen a few of the Lexus' on the road, and it is hot.
      • 9 Years Ago
      Isnt this the same argument just with rehashed players? Euro power comes in low and strong (more focus on torque) while Japanese power comes in high and boosting (more focus on high revving HP)

      Plus the japanese like to cover alot of markets and in the process loose alot more people (IMO) instead of Euro's focusing on a more tighly knit demographic but know that if they remain loyal to their design that the customers will remain loyal to them (and in the process pick up a few converts) so nothing new really. I say leave the Japanese v. Euro debate to something else....like who has the most ridiculous currency.

      Compare for yourself:
      • 9 Years Ago
      The Lexus wins without a doubt when it comes to looks compared to the current 3 series. Hopefully BMW will fix that very soon...
      • 9 Years Ago
      If you want a beautifully designed car with more power, you should get the Lexus. Otherwise, you can get the dumb lookin BMW models which on the positive side appears to offer better handling than the IS models.
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