Motoring guru Chris Nixon tests the Lexus IS 350 F Sport…

The overt styling of the third-generation small Lexus sets it apart from its suave rivals from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

The interior, though, is strikingly modern, functional and finished in quality leather. Its mouse-controlled LCD screen for navigation, ventilation, phone, Mark Levinson audio and other functions is one of the more logical systems in this class.

An eight-speed automatic boosts performance and economy for this model, though it’s hooked up to a V6 that, while smooth, is showing its age and is not particularly economical. Riding fat 18 inch tyres, the IS more than matches its rivals in the ‘Bens’.

FOR: Value, quality, aftersales service.

AGAINST: Good but dated engine.

VERDICT: Compact luxury stands out from the pack.

$73,800 plus onroads | Sedan 3.5 litre V6 petrol engine | 233kW