Addition Through Subtraction: The 2016 Lexus IS 200t

Front 3/4 view of 2016 Lexus IS 2006
The 2016 Lexus IS 200t.
Ours is a numbers-oriented society.  And the bigger the number, usually, the better.  It is certainly that way with car model numbers, with the number generally corresponding in some way to the size of the engine under the hood.

So why did Lexus make the IS 250 the IS 200t and how is that actually an improvement?

Rear 3/4 view of 2016 Lexus IS 200t
2016 Lexus IS 200t.
The answer is that while last year's IS 250 had fans (including our Publisher and Executive Editor), the 250's normally-aspirated 204-horsepower 2.5-liter V6 was not enough for it to be competitive with the likes of the Audi A4, the BMW 3-series or the 2017 Jaguar XE. So Lexus has performed some subtraction---two cylinders, half a liter of displacement---by switching to a turbocharged 2.0-liter four and come up with an additional 37 horsepower and a significant boost in torque.  Beyond that, fuel economy has improved, from an EPA-estimated 21 city/30 highway to 22 city/33 highway, partly due to the switch to a four, and partly due to the switch from a six-speed automatic transmission to an eight-speed unit

The change is transformative. The IS 200t is now fully competitive with some of the best entry-level sport sedans in the world.

Interior view of 2016 Lexus IS 200t
2016 Lexus IS 200t interior.
Unchanged, thankfully, is the interior.  Already one of the best in class, and filled with a long list of standard features (click here).

Our test vehicle added to its base price of $37,325 with a blind spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert and heated outside rear-view mirror ($600),  the F SPORT package with FSPORT front bumper and spindle grile, LED Headlamps, 18-inch F SPORT split five-spoke wheels, summer tires, a TFT instrument cluster, heated and ventilated front F SPORT seats, a perforated shift knob, a black headliner, aluminum pedals and a back-up monitor and F SPORT tuned suspension ($3,545), a power rear sunshade ($210), navigation including the Lexus Enform app suite ($1,505), a cargo net ($65) and a trunk mat ($105).

With delivery, processing and handling fee of $940, the as-tested price was $44,295.  Lexus is rapidly leaving its sensory-deprivation image in the dust.  It remains to be seen if it can do the same to Audi, BMW and Jaguar when it comes to small sport sedans.  But the IS 200t appears up to the task.