Lexus RC 200t Turbocharged

Bringing turbo engines to the Lexus lineup may improve fuel economy numbers and reduce emissions, but as Lexus USA marketing manager Brian Bolain explains to Automotive News, the technology also has a strong appeal to consumers:

“What ‘turbo’ says to the typical consumer is you’re modern,” [Bolain] told Automotive News at a press event here for the turbocharged lineup. “People hear ‘turbo,’ and even for someone who doesn’t know or couldn’t explain how it works, they know it’s something good and they know they want one.”

This is crucial given that the German brands that serve as luxury benchmarks — Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi — don’t sell anything but turbocharged engines.

“When the consumer is doing their side-by-side comparison online, it gives you parity,” Bolain said of adding turbos.

Hybrid technology matches the benefits of turbocharging in many ways (fuel economy, low-end torque, reduced emissions), but unfortunately there’s a cost and weight premium to the current electric battery packs. If Lexus wants to compete with Mercedes, BMW, and Audi on performance and cost, turbos may be the only viable option.