The majority of hybrids will get you from A to B in an efficient, hassle-free and eco-friendly manner.

But many of those vehicles are thrifty rather than thrilling – more functional than fascinating.

Step forward the Lexus IS 300h – a hybrid you really want to drive and don’t mind being seen in.

It’s handsome, fairly quick, agile when cornering and offers tremendous fuel economy – four qualities that combine well to create a car that stands out from the ever-growing hybrid crowd.

In terms of its appearance, the IS 300h is an immensely good-looking compact sports saloon from the upmarket Japanese brand.

Its sleek design, which compares favourably with premium German rivals, includes confident flowing lines.

Stylish creases typify the front and rear of the car, with the stand-out feature on the vehicle’s face being the eye-catching deep grille.

The car’s aesthetic appeal is nicely rounded off by the intricate multi-spoke 18in alloys.

The desirable exterior is mirrored by an interior that feels very classy, with leather upholstery and other high quality materials to the fore.

Behind the wheel, it’s an enjoyable driving experience.

Benefiting from years of parent brand Toyota’s hybrid know-how, this saloon is a silky smooth performer. The 2.5-litre petrol engine combines with the 105kW electric motor to produce a combined 223hp.

The engine is prone to a bit of whirring under heavy acceleration, but it does propel the car from a standing start to 62mph in 8.4 seconds if you happen to be in a hurry.

The electric CVT transmission isn’t necessarily one for the driving purist, but compensation comes in the form of the enjoyable handling characteristics offered by the car’s rear wheel drive set-up.

There are a number of drive modes – normal, eco and sport, along with EV (Electric Vehicle) and snow.

It means you can tailor the car’s persona to suit your mood.

The clever hybrid system allows the car’s battery to regenerate as you brake or ease off the accelerator.

A graphic on the dashboard helps the driver adapt their driving style to achieve maximum fuel economy by showing you exactly which part of the drivetrain is in use and which part is taking a break.

When negotiating the inner-city traffic in Bradford, the car eased through the many junctions and stop-start conditions up Manchester Road and along Mayo Avenue in emissions-free, quiet electric mode.

Its agile handling and swift acceleration then came into their own while picking up speed exiting the tight right-hander that signifies the start of the M606.

Like many vehicles in the Lexus range, the IS 300h cruises effortlessly once you’re up to motorway speed, with very little wind noise.

The motorway miles are made that little bit easier thanks to the impressive adaptive cruise control system, which combines with lane keep assist to make the journey all seem effortless. It’s undoubtedly a lovely car in which to cover long distances, as it eats up the miles without the rumble and vibration of diesel power.

It’s a car in which you feel safe due to a bunch of helpful driving aids, including blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and traffic sign recognition.

The interior oozes the kind of elegance you come to associate with Lexus, with high-quality soft touch materials throughout.

There’s also an excellent sound system, good connectivity and a very user-friendly sat nav.

The cabin provides plenty of room for four adults, with rear seat passengers separated by a fold-down centre with cupholders.

All things considered - the fuel economy, good looks, plush interior and driving pleasure - this is a very appealing car for an on-the-road price below £40,000.


Lexus IS 300h Premier

ENGINE: 2.5-litre petrol with 105kW electric motor

TOP SPEED: 125mph

0-62MPH: 8.4 seconds

POWER: 223hp (combined)

ECONOMY: 61.4mpg combined

EMISSIONS: 107g/km

WARRANTY: Three years/60,000 miles

PRICE: £39,875