Classic Top Gear: 1999 Lexus IS 200 Review

In keeping with the IS theme from yesterday, here’s a throwback Top Gear segment from 1999, with James May test-driving the first-generation Lexus IS 200:

James May certainly looks quite young—but still exhibits that special “Captain Slow” driving style. It does sound like IS 200 suffered the same sort of low-band power deficiency that I experienced in the second-gen IS 250.



  1. There are great people who many just don’t like listening to for some mysterious reason - Chris Bangle, for example, and then there is the Top Gear crew of the current format. I just like listening to what they have to say no matter what they’re doing. Fifth Gear on the other hand…meh.

    From the looks of it, the IS has always been an influential vehicle in the Lexus lineup since its debut under the Lexus nameplate. Even the beeps have influenced the latest IS F! wink

  2. I remember the first (and thankfully last) time I drove an IS200, as a loan car when getting the IS300 serviced (before they replaced the loan cars with IS250s). It sounded and drove like a sick donkey that needed to be shot, a night and day difference to the IS300!

  3. Does anyone know if Top Gear reviewed the current IS? I know they did a comparison between the IS-F and the M3.

  4. I don’t think so.
    Source: I’ve watched all the Top Gear episodes and have always watched out for any Lexus vehicles. LOL

  5. I don’t remember seeing the new IS on Top Gear, but they did name it as the Best Executive/Luxury Car in 2005:

  6. Haha, I was going to be mention that about the beeping! Too funny.

    Absolutely agree with you about Bangle & the Top Gear guys, though I find Clarkson to be rather stuck in his ways.

  7. Hi there -

    There’s another copy of that missing video, here: