Big engines are dying; it’s a sad fact of life. You can either pretend to ignore it (like some companies), or evolve and adapt to the ever-changing market. For Toyota—or more specifically Lexus—that engine evolution came later than sooner.

The introduction of the NX small SUV marked the first turbocharged engine in the lineup. The old adage “There’s no replacement for displacement” went out the window then, and continues now with the new IS 200t.


Small on Displacement, Big on Refinement

What is the Lexus IS 200t, exactly? In the simplest sense, it’s Lexus’ small luxury sedan, and one of the most successful vehicles the brand has ever built. Painting a more detailed picture, though, this new IS is a refined, efficient luxury machine for the modern driver. Here’s how.

Anyone would tell you that the 2.5-liter V6 in the previous IS was ancient and unrefined. But it’s one thing to hear it, it’s another to really feel it firsthand. The IS 200t really proves that ideal true. Gone is the old V6, in its place a much more modern engine.

Displacement was dropped from a V6 to a 4-cylinder, with a low-pressure turbo fitted for improved performance across the board, including horsepower and mpg. You’ll get 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft torque. You’ll even get as much at 33 mpg on the highway; a noticeable enough difference from the 30 mpg IS 250.


Handle With Care

The new engine really works wonders when it comes to performance. But one thing you might be missing if you’re driving the now outdated IS 250 is an aura of refinement, sprinkled with a little bit of sport.

At 241 horsepower, the engine is powerful enough for a car in this segment, but thankfully, nowhere near as jumpy at the vehicle it’s replacing. It’s a perfect mix with the turbocharged engine, the eight-speed automatic gearbox, and the great weight distribution. Tack on the additional F Sport package, and a few new driving options are available, along with a more aggressive exterior and some other neat little bits.


Edgy Inside

Lexus decided with its dramatic new design language, that its interior would follow the same aggressive, angular theme. You get pretty much the same interior in the new IS 200t than you did with the outgoing IS 250. It’s edgy, it’s sharp, and it’s relatively not that difficult to get used to.


The Verdict

In terms of overall refinement, the Lexus IS 200t might be best in class. And with a starting price of just $37,325, it’s definitely the cheaper option against its BMW and Audi competitors. It doesn’t take a dramatic change for the Lexus IS to remain one of the best luxury cars around.