|2017 Lexus IS 200t F Sport|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$45,885|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/241-hp/258-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3,783 lb (53/47%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||184.3 x 71.3 x 56.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.0 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.4 sec @ 89.9 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||118 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.88 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.3 sec @ 0.69 g (avg)|
|REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB||20.4/31.1/24.2 mpg|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||22/32/26 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY||153/105 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.76 lb/mile|
When you pay $45,000 for a luxury sport sedan that’s smaller inside than the Honda Civic, it better make you feel special, and that’s where the refreshed 2017 Lexus IS 200t F Sport excels. Almost every surface you can touch from the driver’s seat feels rich, and the cabin is a good place to watch nearly everything else in this class out-accelerate your car.
That’s right. The turbocharged IS 200t’s 7.0-second 0–60-mph time is slower than that of the BMW 330i (5.5 seconds), Mercedes-Benz C300 (6.0 seconds), and Cadillac ATS 2.0T (5.7 seconds). What holds the IS 200t back is that the turbo-four’s 241 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque have a lot of Lexus to haul around: the IS 200t we tested weighed 3,783 pounds. That’s well above that 330i’s 3,537 pounds, the C300’s 3,512 pounds, and the lightweight ATS’ 3,473 pounds. The IS 200t doesn’t feel slow from behind the wheel, and those who race from red light to red light will get the 306-hp IS 350 anyway. Still, most competitors are quicker.
The IS still doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, but the car does offer lots of standard equipment. Every 2017 IS 200t comes with a standard suite of active safety tech, which includes a lane departure mitigation system (the car can make slight steering corrections to keep you in your lane) and a precollision system that can apply the brakes if an obstacle ahead is sensed. Adaptive cruise control is also part of the package, but it won’t work in stop-and-go traffic, so the tech might be useful on a road trip but not for everyday commuting. Other standard features on every 2017 IS include LED headlights and hands-free keyless access. We hope the refreshed 2017 IS 200t lives up to the reputation of also providing the luxury of decent reliability set by so many past Lexuses.
What might send customers to rival automaker dealerships isn’t the IS 200t’s fuel economy, which at an EPA-rated 22/32 mpg city/highway is slightly less than a handful of quicker competitors. Instead, it’s the way the wildly overstyled F Sport model accentuates the IS’ inherent boldness. Executive editor Mark Rechtin called it a “butterface,” and senior features editor Jonny Lieberman described it as strange and gross. The angular LED daytime running lights look like awkward Nike swooshes, but there are some great styling details on the IS, such as the triple L design in the revised 2017 model’s taillights or the way the rear door cut line rises aggressively to meet the stretched-out taillights on the other side of the rear wheels.
You could always tone down the styling by avoiding the $3,545 F Sport package of our test car, but then you’d miss out on that great perforated leather F Sport steering wheel, aluminum pedals, black headliner, neat LFA-inspired instrument cluster gauges, cool 18-inch split-five-spoke wheels, and more. Or maybe the IS’ unmistakable in-your-face styling is precisely what draws you to the car. Some compact luxury sport sedans are more fun, more efficient, and quicker, but not many have an interior this rewarding or as much content at our IS 200t F Sport’s as-tested $45,885 price. If you aren’t bothered by a small trunk or entering the freeway slower than everything else in the class, add the IS 200t to your list.
Multiple editors commented on the Lexus’ eight-speed automatic, which feels geared more for fuel economy or relaxed driving than a driver of the F Sport trim might expect of a normal transmission mode. Activating the Eco or Sport modes is done by rotating a nicely finished silver disc on the center console. Before you head to a back road, first appreciate how the IS 200t F Sport’s seats hug you, as well as the car’s relatively quiet idle. The car handles well, but the ride is a little stiff. Through the figure-eight course, the Lexus turned in a 26.3-second time at 0.69 g (average). That’s just a bit off the pace of the C300 (25.7 seconds at 0.71 g), ATS (26.0 seconds at 0.71 g), and 330i (26.1 seconds at 0.71 g). What those numbers don’t communicate is how entertaining the ATS is, but testing director Kim Reynolds said the Lexus felt pretty agile on the track, at least before the tires got too hot.
The IS 200t F Sport is sporty, but it falls short of the class leaders in that department. Even so, unlike the ATS, the IS 200t has an almost-usable rear seat and soft seat backs to press your knees against. (Almost every car in this class has a small rear seat.) Lexus buyers in this price range seeking a real back seat should check out the more powerful ES, which is far more spacious for about the same price but won’t drive as well.
In the compact luxury sport sedan class, the IS 200t makes its mark with a stylish interior. The smooth black headliner is attractive (and attracts hair if you’re too tall for the car), the thick steering wheel feels great, and the F Sport–specific digital instrument cluster is a cool LFA-inspired gimmick. The central gauge can move from one side of the cluster to the other, changing the layout of the digital screens around the tachometer and digital speedometer. The analog clock in the dash looks rich, and the car’s 10.3-inch screen is ideally placed at the top of the dash. (The display is available in a navigation package.)
Many editors who drove the IS 200t complained about the small, mouselike controller used to navigate what’s displayed on that large screen. The controller is positioned at the bottom of the center stack, with a raised palm rest to make using it more comfortable but not necessarily easier. Because the screen is so wide, you can split it to simultaneously show multiple bits of info—no more cycling from a navigation map to a fuel economy screen or to info about that last song. The infotainment solution isn’t the best, but it’s not as terrible as some make it out to be, especially with the 2017 IS’ newly available 10.3-inch screen.