By: IOL Motoring Staff
Johannesburg - Lexus has jumped on the downsizing bandwagon by dropping the two-litre turbopetrol four recently introduced in the NX200t compact SUV into its sports sedan shell to create the IS200t.
It wasn't that simple, of course; the engine had to be turned 90 degrees to line up with the sedan's rear-wheel drive architecture - but that gave the Lexus whitecoats the opportunity to revise the exhaust plumbing and engine management system, liberating an extra five kilowatts to bring it up to a claimed 180kW at 5800rpm. Peak torque, meanwhile, is unchanged at 350Nm, on tap from 1650-4400rpm.
The IS200t will compete directly with BMW’s 330i and we really do mean directly as there’s a mere R440 price difference in favour of the German (R518 360 vs R518 800), which also has a 2-litre turbo-four with identical torque and five extra kilowatts. Merc's 180kW/370Nm C300 is another alternative, albeit pricier at R566 196.
The 8AR-FTS engine takes the 'short port' principle to the next level by siamesing the exhausts parts and casting the twin-scroll turbo housing integral with the cylinder head - and on the upstream side the air-to-liquid intercooler is mounted on the engine to reduce intake manifold volume and, with it, turbo lag.
"OTTO" SAVES YOU FUEL
Thanks to a huge range of variability on the intake camshaft, it can run on either the conventional Otto cycle or the fuel-saving Atkinson cycle, swopping seamlessly from one to the other depending on conditions and load. It also combines high-pressure direct fuel-injection and low-pressure port injection, according to driving conditions, for optimum combustion.
It's mated to the eight-speed paddle-shift transmission already familiar in the IS350 Sport and RC350, with a short first gear for acceleration off the line, closely-spaced intermediate ratios and a long top gear for relaxed cruising. In this application it also features auto blip and downshift lock-up for a more engaging drive.
THREE DRIVE MODES
Instead of a shift light there's a special bar-graph in the multi-information display that tells you exactly when to change gear, while the drive mode selector on the centre console tailors throttle response and steering assistance between Eco, Normal and Sport modes, depending on your preference for the road ahead.
All of which translates to a 0-100km/h sprint in seven seconds flat and laboratory fuel-consumption of 7.5 litres per 100km.
The new IS200t also befits from new performance dampers developed by Yamaha to reduce body roll in hard cornering without sacrificing ride quality.
For the purists and the power-trippers, the top-of-the-range IS350 Sport with its sonorous 233kW V6 is still available.
TWO TRIM FLAVOURS
The IS200t comes in a choice of two trim levels - but even the base E spec includes new multi-spoked 17 inch alloy rims, full leather trim, electric front seats with seat heating and ventilation, a seven-inch central colour display and, for the first time on an IS sedan, front and rear parking sensors.
The steering column is electrically adjustable for both rake and reach and retracts automatically when you switch off the ignition, while the addition of rear side airbags takes the total to 10.
The higher EX trim spec adds satellite navigation, an electrochromatic rear-view mirror and a reversing camera as standard issue.
IS 200t E - R518 800
IS 200t EX - R570 300
IS 350 F Sport - R627 900
All IS models are covered by a four-year or 100 000km warranty. The E model also comes with a four-year or 100 000km service plan, the EX with a four-year or 100 000km service plan that includes brake pad replacement, while the IS 350 has a four-year or 100 000km full maintenance plan.
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