For 2016, Lexus is offering a revised approach to the small luxury sport sedan segment – dropping the previous single vehicle IS 250 (FWD and AWD) and replacing it with a three vehicle combination of selected powertrains (plus options to choose from) in order to build your luxury sport sedan the way you want it. The choices are the IS 200t RWD, IS 300 AWD and IS 350 RWD and AWD – all of them available in the F Sport trim.
Of particular note to us is the all-new IS 200t and its turbocharged powertrain that adds more performance to the entry level of the IS luxury sport sedan line. We have seen this designation before on the NX 200t (introduced for 2015). The NX 200t is a small luxury crossover which features a new and very well designed 2.0L twin-scroll turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and – when fitted out as an F Sport – gives the NX 200t crossover some very nice pop.
As the IS 200t designation implies, that same power plant is now under the hood of the new 2016 IS 200t RWD. Tweaked a bit from the original NX application, this turbo now delivers an increased 241 horsepower with 258 lb.-ft. of torque through a new eight-speed Multi-mode (ECO, NORMAL, SPORT and SNOW) Electronically Controlled with intelligence (ECT-i) Transmission with available steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
The new 2016 IS 200t, weighing in at around 3,600 pounds, with the added horses plus the eight-speed automatic, delivers 0-60 mph acceleration of around 6.9-seconds, says Lexus. Not sprint car time, but very decent for an entry-level luxury sport sedan where performance is measured across other dimensions as well, including handling, ride, comfort, technology and fuel economy.
And, in examining the documentation, we note that the top track speed for the IS 200t is 143 mph. So if you are going to run at that speed, you probably need it to be in an F Sport with its added performance attributes.
2016 Lexus IS 200t F Sport
The Lexus team sent us a 2016 IS 200t to test drive a few weeks back. Remembering our general preference for an F Sport in Lexus vehicles, where the package is offered, they sent the F sport in the very bold Redline red with Black NuLux ‘leather’ interior. The base MSRP for an IS 200t is $37,325. The charge to upgrade as a F Sport is $3,545 taking the base MSRP for our test IS 200t F Sport to $41,070.
IS 200t Standard Features
Some of the standard features on the IS 200t, besides the signature spindle grille and Lexus nicely crafted angular body panels, were a power tilt and retract moonroof, color coordinated front airdam, color-keyed mirrors with integrated turn signals and puddle lamps, LED daytime running lamps, LED exterior accessory lighting, dual chrome exhaust, and SmartAccess with push button start.
Inside the IS 200t you will find a really good presentation of Lexus styling executed nicely with quality materials that create both a very comfortable as well as esthetically pleasing ride and drive experience. To that end, we would make special note of the Silver Performance Trim package that came on our F Sport. The use of matte surfaces and brushed metal throughout the interior was a nice departure from the usually expected chrome and other high gloss surfaces. The treatments of the instrument cluster bezels was also appealing as was the generous use of soft touch materials around the cabin. The driver leg tunnel was narrower than we would usually like, but the use of those quality padded materials along the console side, made it a non-issue quickly.
The F Sport package subtly gives the IS 200t a sportier appearance with a refined F Sport grille and fascia treatment plus, of course, the F Sport badging sides and rear.
For performance, the F Sport upgrade adds or upgrades the IS 200t with F Sport 18-inch split five-spoke aluminum alloy wheels mounted with Bridgestone summer or all-season tires, F Sport performance tuned suspension, high friction brake pads, and twin projector LED headlamps (low and high beam).
Convenience or ambiance upgrades include F Sport styled seats with contrast stitching that are heated and ventilated with 10-way power for the driver and 8-way for the passenger. For the driver, there is also an F Sport perforated leather steering wheel with logo and shift knob, TFT instrument cluster, aluminum sport pedals and backup camera with dynamic gridlines. F Sport treatment finishes with a black headliner, stainless steel scuff plates with Lexus logo and the Silver Performance Trim accents.
There are a number of options available on the IS 200t and our test car added a few. We found a couple to be a bit odd.
Firstly, we were a bit perplexed to see that the F Sport Steering wheel in the package did not include the paddle shifters which was a puzzle. Our IS test car had them with an additional $150 charge noted. So we are not sure if they are in the package or not.
In any case, we are not a big fan of paddle shifters, especially when you have a performance tuned eight-speed automatic in SPORT drive mode. The computer system will shift much more effectively than most people can tap the paddles. A driver will have a much better ride focusing on the steering, accelerator and brakes alone.
On the safety side, Lexus added the Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert for $600. Again, a bit puzzling as we felt it should be a standard on a luxury sedan at these price points.
A Navigation Package was also added with the ‘sometimes’ controversial Remote Touch Interface (RMI) mouse-type controller for managing the infotainment systems. Included were the Lexus Enform App Suite, new Destination Search protocols (replaces Bing), Voice Command Voice Recognition System, Bluetooth hands-free phone, HD Radio with iTunes tagging, MP3/WMA and dual USB/iPod audio input plugs for $1,505.
Adding a Cargo Net and Mats in the trunk, our 2016 Lexus IS 200t F Sport priced – including freight – at $44,235.
Addressing the RMI criticism, unlike others who have been quick to complain, we found it to be actually pretty easy to use – with a little practice and, by the end of the week, were having no problems with it. Yes, it is different, but Lexus tells us that customer feedback on the system is very good.
The IS 250, with its old V6, just did not resonate with us. It was just more of what everyone else offered in the segment with signature Lexus styling. We think the new IS 200t stands out with its new powertrain – complemented by Lexus styling and luxury treatments – making it worthy of consideration for an entry level luxury sports sedan.
For the record, the fuel economy for the IS 200t is a competitive 26/33 mpg city/highway and combined 26 mpg. In full disclosure, driving in SPORT mode, you will get a tad less than that.
And no, we did not run our F Sport anywhere close to that 143 mph. But here in Texas, we do have legal highway speeds upwards of 85 mph which F Sport handles with no sweat. We will tell you that the faster it goes the better it drives.
Test drive the IS 200t F Sport. You will like the sports car performance and love the Lexus luxury in the F Sport, to boot.
You can read our reviews of the NX 200t Crossover by clicking the Suggested Links below.