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Tuners drool over possibility of a rear-drive Lexus IS 200t turbo

The import tuner culture loves making mainstream turbos insane. Could the Lexus IS 200t be the next tuner dream machine?

Toyota has not marketed a sporty car with a turbocharger in a long time. Lexus never has. Not since the Supra has the company had a rear-drive, turbocharged sports car. That could change in the next year or two (or three) as the new engine in the NX 200t crossover migrates into other Lexus and then Toyota models. One of the best applications of the new engine might be the rear-drive Lexus IS. The IS 250 is a fine car, but it is slow. Slow is not a good thing for sports sedans. To this writer it seems the most obvious place where a new more powerful and fuel efficient engine like Lexus’ 8AR-FTS, 2-Liter turbocharged might find a welcome home.

Tuning Has a Rich History
Most modern cars can be improved by backyard mechanics, tuners, technicians and anyone willing to pour time and money into a car. Some vehicles lend themselves to this. The Toyota Supra, MazdaSpeed3, Subaru WRX, and Golf GTI jump to mind. One key thing that seems to attract the attention of those interested in taking a cool car and making it insane are turbochargers.

Automakers Tune Cars Too
Automakers do a variety of things to make turbocharged cars faster. Volkswagen is a great example. For many years it has sold GTIs with turbos in the approximately 200hp range, that are tuned and placed into cars like the Audi TT and have much more power. The new Mercedes CLA is similar. In its most popular version its 2-liter turbo produces 208 horsepower. The AMG version of the car has a 2-liter turbo with 355 horsepower. Such a shame it is not rear-wheel drive.

Boost the Boost
The most common thing done to make turbocharged cars faster is increasing the boost the turbo produces. Typically, manufacturers will stick to near 1 atmosphere of added air compression. Tuners start there and add more. A lot more. A larger turbo is one method, but there are more ways this can be achieved.

Remap the ECU
Remapping the engine control unit goes hand in hand with this. If you have heard of “cars with a chip” this is what the folks are talking about. The engine control is either swapped, or reprogrammed to offer more power. There are shops that specialize in doing this.

Add Fuel and Let it Breath
Simply boosting an engine and telling it to operate at peak more often is not all it takes. More fuel is often needed to feed the beast. Exhaust manifold changes are also popular ways to let the car breath. All internal combustion engines are air pumps. The added incoming air needs to go someplace and getting rid of the stock exhaust is step one. Tuners either start at the engine manifold itself, or “Cats-back,” from the rear of the catalytic converter(s). This will help that air pump operate more effectively. Custom exhaust from a company specializing in the trade or home-made will do the job and this is one of the most common steps in making a car faster.

I'm not a tuner and don't pretend to be. I am a current IS owner and former Supra owner. From my point of view, the IS 200t seems an obvious drift or drag machine once tuned to about 500 horsepower. We’d love to hear from some experienced tuners about what they think a 2-liter turbocharged IS 200t could become if they applied their skills. If you have not seen or heard the details on this new engine, please check out our link below covering all the fine details. Comment below and let’s keep it PG-13 please.

Related Stories:
Lexus 2015 NX 200t turbo engine is the company's most important in a decade
The Lexus IS 200t will strike the perfect balance
2015 Lexus V8 RC F coupe will mean the end of the IS F sedan

Main story image courtesy of Brian Charles Triplett and Vlad Yevtushenko


John Goreham    August 8, 2014 - 7:00PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

Excellent point. The 2015 IS 250 Rear drive "starts at" about $37K, but they really cost about $41K MSRP new with the typical package of Nav and leather etc.. On the showroom floor, the "CPO" cars (which in my area are all AWD versions) cost about $27K to $31K. So imagine down the road a used one, a few years old for about $25K. I expect the IS 200t will have the same prices as the '250.
While researching this I discovered that the tuner companies such as National Speed, where the person in the photo once worked, are tuning 370Zs, Nissan GTRs, Corvettes and many other high priced cars. That surprised me. Those are pricey cars. I have much to learn about this general topic.