2016 Lexus IS200t F Sport Quick Take
As automakers race to meet higher fuel economy standards, the use of turbocharged 4-cylinder engines has exploded. And while previous attempts to wring higher mileage from cars usually saw an unsatisfying drop in performance, these new force-induction fours deliver a driving experience that is both spirited and efficient. This in a nutshell describes the 2016 Lexus IS200t F Sport.
The newest member of the IS lineup uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine to deliver 241 horsepower to the rear wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission. This compact sport sedan retains the driving dynamics of its more powerful IS 300/350 siblings, both of which employ a 3.5-liter V6 in two respective states of tune offering 255 and 305 horsepower. This means that the entry-level car, the 200t, is just 14 hp shy of the next model up the line and perhaps is a better value if you put a premium on a rewarding driving experience.
Light and nimble
The 2016 Lexus IS200t actually makes more torque than the IS300 AWD, 258 vs. 236 lb.-ft., but the V6 is able to put its power down more efficiently, and as a result has a quicker 0-60 mph acceleration time of 6.1 seconds compared to the turbo's 6.9 seconds. Part of that is due also to a bit of turbo lag from the 4-cylinder. Still, the IS200t has a light and nimble feel that matches the car's compact dimensions. This is a sport sedan in the tradition of the BMW 3 Series.
While there have been some criticism of the bold spindle grille across the Lexus model range, the look works well with the IS, which has a taut body and sharp character lines that give this sedan an aggressive, sporty air. The interior carries over the theme, is richly appointed and with the optional $3,545 F Sport package, comes with heavily bolstered buckets, a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, aluminum pedals, a backup monitor and heated/ventilated leather seating surfaces. The sport package also adds 18-inch wheels shod with summer sport tires.
Mode matches mood
Depending on your mood, or for that matter weather conditions, the 2016 Lexus IS200t F Sport offers a variety of drive modes to match the situation. There's a dedicated Eco mode, which the car will automatically slip into from normal if your demands on the throttle are light, a Sport mode, which tightens up the steering and suspension as well as making the car feel more free revving, and a Snow mode with second gear starts to cope with slippery conditions.
Other features on our test car, which listed at $44,510 included a $1,505 navigation package, lighted door sills for $425 and a $600 blind spot monitor with cross traffic detection. If you decide not to go with the aggressive tires, suspension and seating of the F Sport package and just take the navigation, the Lexus IS200t can be had for less than $40,000 based on its $37,325 base price, plus $950 destination. And since the F Sport goodies really don't affect the engine output, a standard model will offer nearly the same level of thrills at a value price while delivering combined fuel economy of 26 mpg.