Any of my readers may be aware that I bought a Citroen C4 Coupe VTS. It turned out to be a bag of bolts and really was not the effort to even begin fixing the car. The brake caliper was binding, the clutch’s biting point was so far up you had to launch your foot off the pedal to gain momentum. If that wasn’t bad enough, the flywheel was also making some horrific noises when pulling off.

I bought a French car, and I hated it.

Days would go by just leaving the car standing and instead opting in for public transport. Sincerely regretting my rushed decision, I did what anyone would do – wait for the V5C to arrive so I could flog it. In fact, I made that decision only a few days into ownership.

The Plan

A car is as reliable as you make it. It all depends on the owner and how well it’s been maintained. However, there seems to be a few exceptions when it comes to Japanese cars — they are the pinnacle of reliability.

Following my previous formula for car buying I set out on my second attempt. This time I had a solid idea of what I wanted; a Lexus IS200.

There’s a couple of great reasons for buying an IS200; a silky smooth straight six, rear wheel driven, and a car that can see the fun side of 130mph. Alas, there’s also the comfort, if you’ve read my article about owning a Vauxhall Insignia then you’ll know I cherish my comfort.

Which IS200?

As some of you may know, no car is just a set standard. There’ll always be some upper level trim to differentiate the expensive from the cheap.

The most common you’ll tend to find is the SE — the mid-level trim option. Usually, these are found with a part-leather interior but sometimes they can be found with full leather. All things considered, they’re virtually the same as the S model but with more luxuries – heated seats, parking sensors etc.

Then there’s the well sought after IS200 Sport. Boasting many of the same features that can be found in the SE, with a twist. A spoiler designed specifically for this model and the secret weapon: a limited-slip differential. Perfect for something you can launch around a track, or drift, for that matter. This model is popular amongst the modding community simply because of its differential.

The thing is, I don’t want to drift. I want a car that has raw power — but can be a relaxing drive back and forth on my commute. The SE looks like the best fit.

The Hunt For “The One”

The budget: £1,500 – the location: within 150 miles – the mileage: under 100,000 miles.

These were the rules. Relatively speaking, it was more than achievable. Auto Trader’s results yielded some interesting contenders. Most of which happened to be in the region of Slough, however, they weren’t necessarily perfect.

The problem with a lot of the sub-£1,000 IS200’s is that they seemed to lack recent service history. Which, in my opinion, was a no go. I needed an example of something that was well looked after. My thought was to find a dealership that was well-rated and had plenty of stock.

A blue Lexus IS200 as advertised from an online car dealer.

I came across “We Sell Any Vehicle” in Leicester. A blue IS200 SE with relatively low mileage and pictures that made it out to be a sparkling example. With a £300 deposit down I set out on a 100-or-so mile journey.

Don’t Waste A Journey

Judgement day came swiftly. Oh boy, there was some judging to be made. Upon arrival at We Sell Any Vehicle, there was no one to be seen. After wandering around the yard for a good ten minutes we finally came across it. A sales representative peered through the window of what could only be described as a caravan on stilts. Something seemed dodgy.

A brief look around the car showed some awful age-related marks and rather extreme rust around the driver’s side arches. After some scrambling around for the keys, it turned out there was a rather hideous story behind this car. It has been ragged. This wasn’t the car I’d been promised, I’d been cheated.

Some more inspections revealed something blatantly clear; this was being used as a dealership workhorse. Fresh mud on the carpets and splatters of dirt up the side. I paid a £300 deposit a few days in advance and not even a simple clean up. The rocker was glistening with fresh oil, and soft rust eating away the sills. This car was a no go.

Retreating to the nearest café, my father and I was determined to not waste a trip. A second listing popped up within 3 miles of Leicester. This was the one.

A phone call later and an hour wait and the car was ready. A range-topping IS200 SE.

A rear shot of my new Lexus IS200 at the Black Mountain Pass
A rear shot of my new Lexus IS200 at the Black Mountain Pass

The Moral of the Story

If there is anything I’ve learned from this last month and a half it’s that research is key. Timing plays a great deal too. But the main thing is to set out on something you definitely want. Don’t always go for the first thing you see, because more often than not, that pressure will bite back.

I absolutely adore the IS200. It may not be the fastest car ever, but it’s well-built and an absolute bag of fun to drive.

More to come in the near future, I’m sure.

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