After the introduction of the IS 250 and the 350 back in 2014, both of which turned out to be very engaging and enjoyable vehicles to drive, especially with the addition of the F Sport package, Lexus has decided to keep up the neighbors and come out with a 4- cylinder turbocharged version of the popular entry level sport sedan.

So gone is the IS 250 with a V6 engine that only managed right around 200 horses, to be replaced with the 4- cylinder 2- liter twin scroll turbocharged motor that the engineers at Lexus put in the NX 200t small SUV, along with the 8- speed transmission that also came from the NX.

One might think that the addition of a smaller engine would also mean a smaller horsepower output, not so with the new 200t engine it puts out a very respectable 241 horsepower along with 258 lb-ft of torque, and when coupled with the new 8- speed transmission it makes for an even better entry level Lexus IS. One that competes very well with the likes of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes C Class, a group that is very elite indeed.

So on a recent trip out to the Denver, Colorado area when the folks at Lexus offered us the chance to try out the new IS 200t we jumped at the chance to have a couple of days with the new sport coupe and some driving time around the Denver area, albeit a somewhat shorter time than normal with one of our test vehicles.

However, over those couple of days is just proved to us why we have liked the Lexus IS even more, especially with this new engine. For an entry level luxury sedan, the engineers have done a fine job in proving that Lexus can and will be competitive in this market of smaller, yet more powerful 4- cylinder sedan.

Fortunately we landed in Denver around midday and didn’t have anywhere to be until around 6 pm that evening where we were invited to attend an informal pizza party in Golden, Colorado with any of the manufactures representatives that had arrived early for the Rocky Mountain Driving Experience that we would attend for the next two days.

Deanne wanted to find a Greek restaurant where we could grab some lunch, so after picking up the Lexus at the airport we headed for a place that she had discovered after asking Siri that appeared to be a great place in Aurora. 45 minutes later and couple of freeway changes and one wrong turn with the new IS we arrived at our destination for lunch. The first thing we noticed in the new IS is how comfortable the front seats are, they fit so well and kept us snuggly in place for the 45 minute ride. Of course they were both heated and cooled with the F Sport package, so we were both happy in the 90 degree Denver weather.

The exterior of the IS is more like a work of art than that of a sport sedan, that lands somewhere between a fine sports car and an upper end luxury sedan, sure to look noble in any driveway. Our test ride came in what Lexus calls a ‘Redline’ color, which was a deep beautiful almost fire engine red, it was sure to get everyone’s attention as we drove down the road.

Adding the F-Sport package to the Lexus brings a larger spindle grill, a Lexus tradition, to the IS, it big and bold and in your face look. Combine that with the swoosh LED daytime running lights and low air intakes on each side of the front end and we have a very aggressive art deco front end, that is in our opinion the best looking of the bunch of high end sports coupes.

Outside the F Sport package also adds LED headlamps both low and high beam, along with larger 18 inch 5 spoke wheels that are clad with great looking summer tires, something that would have to be changed out each year with the change of seasons.

Inside gets a really cool TFT instrument cluster along with cooled front seats, a perforated shift knob, black headliner and aluminum pedals, and they added in the back up camera with the package. Underneath the suspension gets an F Sport tuning to give the sedan and even more “sports car” like ride.

Our test ride also came with a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert, both a couple of safety features that are well worth the $600 price tag.

The new Lexus Enform system is included at the base lever on the IS giving automatic collision detection and notification, along with a stolen vehicle locater, and emergency SOS button and a year of roadside assistance. Adding the navigation package enhances the Enform system with a destinations app and other options like Yelp and a gas price locater.

This is all run by the new Lexus touch pad interface, instead of a touch screen, we are torn between liking this better or the previous mouse like interface that was used in previous years. It can still be hard to run while driving as sometimes it is hard to get the exact location clicked for what response is wanted. The good news is that voice recognition system is so good that most everything can be managed through voice commands. We did find however that there will be a learning curve both for the owner and the vehicle to get through the menus via voice.

Of course there are many standard features on the IS like a power moon roof, Bluetooth technology, an auto dimming rearview mirror and very nice full color multi-function display in the center of the speedometer and tachometer!

The IS will remain one of our favorites in the Lexus line of Sedans, both because of its great head turning looks and also performance, not to mention the starting price point is very reasonable for a car as loaded with extras and comforts as this one is. Driving one can be a pure adrenaline rush, yet mom will fell right at home dropping the kids off for soccer practice.