2016 Lexus IS200t F Sport
After two years of selling the current-generation IS sedan with a strange, underpowered 2.5-liter V-6 engine (in addition to the optional and way better 3.5-liter V-6), Lexus has wised up and replaced the base engine with a new, turbocharged four-cylinder from the NX200t. The newly created IS200t brings Lexus’s IS lineup in line with pretty much every single one of its competitors, from the Cadillac ATS to BMW’s 3-series to the Mercedes-Benz C-class, all of which come standard with turbocharged fours. Additionally, Lexus also is introducing a third engine to the 2016 IS portfolio, a de-tuned version of the IS350’s 3.5-liter V-6 that’s only available paired with all-wheel drive in the newly christened IS300.
Why create the new IS300? Well, the IS200t will be rear-drive-only, and with the demise of the rear- and all-wheel-drive IS250 models, Lexus apparently saw a need for an entry-level all-wheel-drive model. Cadillac, BMW, and Mercedes all offer their base four-cylinder entry-luxury sedans with all-wheel drive, making Lexus’s choice to serve similar customers with a lower-output V-6 model one remaining bit of weirdness. That said, the IS300’s 3.5-liter V-6 makes 255 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, which is more than both the old IS250 AWD’s 2.5-liter six—and if more power is needed, the range-topping IS350 AWD with its 306-hp 3.5-liter V-6 remains available.
2016 Lexus IS200t F Sport
The real news, of course, centers around the IS200t and its new turbocharged 2.0-liter engine. A modified version of the turbo four that powers Lexus’s new NX crossover, the engine makes slightly more power here, with 241 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque on tap. Like the NX’s engine, the IS200t’s can run on either the Otto combustion cycle or the leaner Atkinson cycle for better fuel economy, thanks to Toyota’s specially tuned variable valve timing. The incorporation of Toyota’s D-4ST port- and direct- fuel-injection solution should help fuel economy—EPA ratings are not out yet—and this makes the IS200t one of the first Toyota- or Lexus-branded products in the U.S. to feature the technology. Lexus’s output figures for the IS200t place it smack in the middle of the entry-luxury field’s four-cylinder turbo landscape, beating the turbo fours in the Audi A4 and the BMW 328i, and exactly matching the Mercedes-Benz C300’s 241. The Cadillac’s 272 horsepower and 295 lb-ft have the Lexus beat, however. Critically, the IS200t’s output easily eclipses that of the now-dead IS250’s 2.5-liter V-6, which produced a wimpy 204 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. While the all-wheel-drive IS300 and IS350 cars continue to use a six-speed automatic transmission, the IS200t joins the rear-drive IS350 in offering an eight-speed automatic.
With such a big boost in power, we expect the IS200t will be better than the IS250. That’s important because until now, the only IS model to truly wow us has been the rear-drive IS350 F Sport. In fact, that very car won a comparison test against the BMW 3-series and the Cadillac ATS. Could the IS200t with F Sport goodies (a combination that will be available) impress driving enthusiasts? We’ll find out with a formal test once the car goes on sale.
2016 Lexus IS200t: The Entry-Level Lexus IS Gets a Much-Needed Power Boost