Zero to 60 mph arrives in a claimed 6.9 seconds. That's eight tenths of a second quicker than the 2.5-liter V-6, but about a second slower than the times posted by the BMW 3-Series and the new Audi A4 equipped with their own 2.0-liter turbo fours. By comparison, Audi's 2.0 is rated at 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque and BMW's is rated at 240 hp and 255 lb-ft. Audi's ratings appear to be dead-on, but BMW's engine seems vastly under-rated.
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I'm guessing Lexus's problem is a lack of direct injection, which is an odd omission for a turbocharged engine these days, especially for a luxury brand. In fact, Lexus has pioneered teaming direct injection with port injection to take advantage of the strengths of both in various driving conditions. Adding direct injection to this engine would make the IS 200t faster, more responsive, and more efficient.
Otherwise, the IS 200t has the same strengths and weaknesses of other IS models. The handling is tight and responsive, with a natural steering feel that firms up a bit when you engage the Sport mode. Push it to its limits and the car has a tendency to understeer, due to a bit too much weight and a front weight bias. However, it's agile and genuinely fun to drive. This is a true sport sedan.
2016 Lexus IS 200t F SportEnlarge Photo
The F Sport's supportive bucket seats help create a tight cockpit-like feel but are wide enough for larger backsides. In my opinion, however, the control layout is a mess. Both the joystick-like controller for the Enform infotainment system and the sliders for temperature control require manual dexterity, which should never be a prerequisite for an in-car control system. You can choose radio stations via the joystick or a small dial far to the right of the center stack. I had to think about where to move my hand to find the right controls, and then I didn't always hit the right spot on the screen because I'm not adept with the joystick. Say what you will about BMW's iDrive or Audi's MMI, but they have one central controller and it's easy to get used to those systems quickly. Lexus should just scrap Enform and start over.
Infotainment systems aside, the Lexus IS is a fun sport sedan that now has a better base engine. If Lexus adds direct injection (or DI and port injection), to the model it's about to show in Beijing, it will have a real contender.
For more on the Lexus IS, see the in-depth reviews over at The Car Connection.