Lexus IS to get new 2.0-litre turbocharged four banger powertrain

The current generation XE30 Lexus IS is set to adopt the turbocharged four cylinder engine first seen on our shores here in the Lexus NX 200 Turbo. This is the first time that the Lexus IS range adopts forced induction power, following the footsteps of its SUV brothers, the NX 200t and the RX 200t.

The IS doesn’t get any cosmetic changes and that’s fine for the standing fact that it looks fairly distinctive as a 3-Series competitor. The front end gets the brand’s latest L-finesse design which looks fiercely extraterrestrial and bears their signature ‘Spindle’ grille design. The Lexus IS certainly has done a fair bit of maturing since its introduction in 1998, or also known here as the Altezza.

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NameLexus IS 200t 
Engine1,998cc inline-four, 16 valve DOHC, Dual VVT-iW, twin scroll turbocharged engine.
Transmission8-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic
Max Power241 hp @ 5,800 rpm
Max Torque350 Nm @ 1,650 rpm
Top Speed229 km/h

Down in the engine bay, the previous 4GR-FSE 2.5-litre V6 engine making 205 hp and 252 Nm of torque at 4,800 rpm powering the IS 250 is ditched for the 8AR-FTS 2.0-litre inline four cylinder which produces 241 hp at 5,800 rpm and 350 Nm of torque from as low as 1,650 rpm. That’s an increase of 36 hp and almost 100 Nm, thanks in part to the twin-scroll turbocharger unit. This combo catapults the IS from nought to 100 km/h in a mere 7.0 seconds and a top speed of 229 km/h.

Like the Lexus NX, this direct injection lump comes with the brand’s Dual VVT-iW technology, which basically means that the engine is able to run on Otto and Atkinson cycles – the former giving you performance and the latter improves fuel efficiency. Both cycles are variable and kicks in depending on driving conditions.

Tasked with moving this sleek sedan is the eight-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission complemented with a pair of paddle shifters. This unit was originally developed for the Lexus RC F coupe, which fires the power to the rear wheels that drive the IS 200t. Another first for the IS is that it’s the first Lexus sedan to vary the gear shifts in line with G-forces.

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The gearbox automatically downshifts under hard braking on an approach to a corner, it then holds the selected lower gear through the corner and selects the most suitable gear upon exit to give the driver greater throttle response. This is poised to make the IS 200t an interesting competitor to the F30 BMW 3 Series.

Being a Lexus, it has a predisposition to being a smooth, comfy and quiet ride by reputation. Straightaway though, you would make an assumption that this powerful and tort turbocharged mill would be whistling and spooling away as you would normally expect under acceleration, however Lexus have developed an electric air bypass valve and resonator to “greatly” reduce the acoustic characteristics of the turbocharger. Bummer.

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In the quest of smoothness, Lexus has, not-for-the-first-time incorporated balancing shafts with non-metallic resin gears to reduce vibration. The structural bits of the engine has been reengineered to reduce unsprung vibration, thus ensuring a smooth revving engine.

The IS 200t is slated to be introduced here towards the end of this year. Stay tuned for the latest updates on this handsome sedan!



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