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Lexus IS200 now turbocharged


NEVER say never is a phrase many of us have used, including many motoring manufacturers. Take for example BMW. A few years ago, BMW said it would never fit a turbo charger to its M division cars. Today, we find that BMW’s entire range of cars, are turbocharged. The same goes for Lexus. Lexus also said it would never put a turbo charger into one of its cars. I’ve just returned from Port Elizabeth where I was able to sample the Lexus IS200t (‘t’ meaning, turbo).

Has the styling changed?

No, not really. The Lexus IS200t looks like the current models but on closer inspection one will notice new fog lamps, which incorporate HID lamps. I do like the styling of the Lexus IS so I’m glad Lexus didn’t mess around with it. It most definitely stands out when placed alongside its competitors from Germany. The car looks powerful, yet elegant, and thanks to its dramatic design, sleek surfacing and tight, sporting proportions of the IS, perfectly reflect the significant advances made to the dynamic capabilities and driving performance.

Has the interior changed?

Once again, the answer is no. The interior remains unchanged for this model. However, there have been some slight styling changes, for example, the introduction of new matte surfaces on the centre console. Lexus prides itself on luxury and the interior of the IS reflects that. The clean, horizontal theme of the new Lexus IS’s interior design is bisected by the strong upward sweep of the centre console, creating a snug, focused ergonomically ideal environment. You also sit low down, supported by extremely comfortable seats. Rear legroom is impressive and so too is the boot space.

There are two derivatives of the Lexus IS200t available: the E and EX models. In terms of interior accessories, both models are extremely well equipped. Even the E grade gets niceties such as seat heating and ventilation, seven-inch central colour display, full leather trim, electric front seats, front and rear PDC (a new addition) to name just a few of the standard items on offer. The EX grade chips in with SatNav, electro chromatic mirror and reverse camera.               

I do have issues though, my main issue is the infotainment system. Sure it has all the fancy features that one expects these days but the toggle switch is a bit tricky to use. They should really just make use of a dial. The other issue is the two cup holders, which are located in the centre armrest; the passengers elbow doesn’t really have a place to rest. Other than that, the Lexus offers a relaxing and well equipped cabin.

Has the engine changed?

Yes, the engine in the Lexus IS200 has changed. As mentioned before, it now features a twin scroll turbocharger, hence the letter ‘t’ in the name.

Is it any good?

Well this specific 2.0-litre motor is pulled straight out of the brand’s compact crossover, the NX200. The engineers have added five extra kilowatts, which gives the IS200t a total power output of 180kW and 350Nm of torque. The 2.0-litre turbo engine’s strength lies in its broad spread of torque, with the aforementioned 350Nm being available from as low as 1 650rpm all the way up to 4 400rpm. This flexibility makes for effortless cruising and acceleration.

There is also an eight-speed Sports Direct Shift automatic transmission (featuring paddle shifters) as well as a Drive Mode Select rotary switch, which allows the driver to choose between Eco, Normal and Sport modes. Lexus claim a 7 second 0-100km/h sprint time and an average fuel consumption figure of around 7.5 litres/100km.

What’s it like to drive?

I really got a chance to fully experience both this car’s new engine as well as its impressive ride quality on the country roads, just outside Port Elizabeth. The car soaks up the bumps and even in Sport mode it returns a composed driving experience. The Lexus IS comes across as more of a luxury cruiser than sports sedan. Lexus designers and engineers have tried to give customers a bit of both but it is the luxury aspects that shine through. As for the engine, well it has the muscle to deal with spirited driving. Unfortunately, due to the car’s impressive insulation qualities you don’t really hear the motor and your sense of speed is somewhat deterred.

Final thoughts

I’m very glad that Lexus has, finally, after many years, decided to introduce a turbo into its IS range. The car now not only competes with the Germans on the luxury side of things but also on the performance side. Lexus will still be offering the IS350 F-Sport model however, thanks to this turbo motor in the IS200t, the V6 motor in the IS350 just seems redundant. Lexus is also considering an F-Sport version of the IS200t but there are no plans as of yet for that model.

Pricing and Maintenance

Lexus IS 200t E R518 800
Lexus IS 200t EX  R570 300
Lexus IS 350 F Sport  R627 900

As with the rest of the Lexus range, all models in the IS range are covered by a four-year/100 000km warranty. On the maintenance front, the E model comes standard with the Lexus “Distance” plan, the EX model gets “Distance Plan Plus” and the F-Sport gets “Distance Plan Complete.”

Picture Source: Lexus SA

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Article written by Justin Jacobs
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