For quite a long time the IS350 has been the choice for Lexus IS enthusiasts. Due to its lack luster power, the IS250 simply fell out of favor from the tuning scene. The only thing keeping it in the hands of enthusiasts in the previous generation was the availability of a 6 speed manual gear box. With the 3rd generation only having the option of an automatic there seemed to be almost no reason for enthusiasts to purchase the IS250. However, Lexus has now joined the other luxury brands in utilizing small displacement forced induction motors for entry level models.
Enter the new IS200t. While on paper the new 2.0 Turbo (8AR-FTS) seems like it was more designed with economy in mind, we believe there is a lot of untapped performance. The power output of the 8AR (241 HP and 258 lb-ft of torque) is very similar to the competition from “rival” companies. BMW 328i 240 hp & 255 lb-ft, Mercedes C300 241 hp & 273 lb-ft, Audi A4 220 hp & 258 lb-ft, Infiniti Q50 211 hp & 236 lb-ft, and Cadillac ATS 272 hp & 295 lb-ft, just to name a few. While the performance limits of these motors have not but pushed much either, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of fun to be had with them. We have seen that the BMW 328i motor can produce over 275 whp (around 320 HP) with some tuning and basic bolt-ons. While this doesn’t say exactly what is possible with the 8AR motor, we can probably assume the motor could tolerate at least 300 HP. While this isn’t mind blowing, this would put the IS200t closer on par with the more expensive IS350. If you can imagine that bigger gains are possible this could mean that the IS200t could easily out power the IS350 and still end up costing about the same, or maybe even less with cheaper insurance costs.
Now we know many will say, “but there are no tuning solutions for the Lexus ECU’s”. While this may currently be true, we don’t expect it to stay that way for much longer. What we do know about the motor is we are dealing with a 10:1 compression ratio (perfect for forced induction with direct injection) engine with a square 86.0mm x 86.0mm Bore and Stroke. If this motor is anything like the turbo motors of old (2JZ, 3S, & 7M) we shouldn’t have to worry about the internals with modest power gains. While the 8AR is fully aluminum we have seen all aluminum Toyota motors handle modest forced induction with ease. The 2ZZ and 2GR in certain Supercharged Lotus cars have shown great durability even after adding more power. We hope to take a closer look at IS200t in the near future and see what we can do with it.