Lexus IS to get turbo

Lexus IS 2.0 turbo engine

WE’D like to tell you how good Lexus’s new 2.0-litre turbo engine is, or isn’t, having just driven it at the launch of the NX in Canada, but we’re not allowed to because there’s a global embargo, but we can tell you it will soon be coming to Australia inside an IS as well.

The 175kW and 350Nm powerplant will definitely find its way into the IS range, despite fudging from company spokesmen, because Lexus apparently trademarked the name “IS 200h” just a few weeks ago. 

“We’d love to have it in the IS, but obviously nothing is confirmed yet,” said Lexus Australia CEO Sean Hanley.

He also said he’d love to see the 2.0 in the brand’s excitement-challenged CT hatch, if they’d give it to him, but sounded less than confident. 

He was more bullish about NX sales, however, predicting it would be the second- or third-highest selling car in his range.

The styling of the NX is undeniably eye-catching and edgy, but only for those stumping up the money for the F Sport (pricing is unconfirmed, but expect it to start around $55,000 to $60,000 when the hybrid 250h arrives in November, with the petrol turbo engine lobbing next March).

Base models get a disappointingly dull horizontal grille, while the top-spec model gets the spindle grille the car was clearly designed to carry.

Hanley says a focus on that sportier end of the market is what the brand’s Australian arm is moving towards.

“For the past 20 years we haven’t been big on excitement or sportiness, we’ve been about luxury and the sense of customer excitement we provide without service, but you’re going to be seeing a lot more of the F brand, a lot more sporty cars, over the next two years,” he said. 

“The image of Lexus is going to change a lot with cars like the RC and RC F Coupe; we’re going to start to see the benefits of that.

“But I still believe the customer experience is one of the biggest things. It’s about having pride in the brand you're buying, about feeling special.”

Those who can afford an F Sport grille will just feel a little bit more special.

Despite the company’s new sporty excitement approach, Hanley poured water on the idea of Lexus producing a sports coupe on the Toyota 86 platform, running the new 2.0.

We will see the engine in RC Coupe, though, and we are allowed to tell you that it pushes the 1700-1860kg NX to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds.

It should be a lot more fun in a smaller car.

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