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The turbocharged Lexus IS 200t will hit BMW 328i where it hurts

Lexus is about to replace the sedate IS 250 with a punchy new engine. This new Lexus model will beat BMW at its own game.

The 2015 Lexus IS 200t will have the company’s new 2.0 liter turbocharged engine. This new vehicle will match to a tee the specifications of BMW’s top-selling car, the 328i. The length, width, height, horsepower, torque, number of doors, will all be the same. However, there will be one important difference. Comparably equipped with heated leather seats, back-up camera, moonroof, navigation and keyless entry the Lexus will cost $5,000 less than the BMW.

Say Goodbye to the IS 250
The current IS 250 is a decent car. The six cylinder engine is smooth, but underpowered. Worse, the engine develops only 185 ft-lb of torque. That is an economy-car level of twist. This will doom the IS 250 to be discontinued to make room for the more modern new engine.

The new IS 200t will use a turbocharged four cylinder a half-liter smaller than the current IS 250’s V6 engine, but it will produce about 260 lb-ft of torque, and it will make that torque at lower RPMs. The result will be a very quick car. So quick, it might even cut into the Lexus IS 350 sales a bit. That car has a 306 horsepower engine.

Price Comparison to the BMW 328i
The 2014 BMW 328i has a very tempting “starting price.” However, that price does not include a back-up camera, or leather seating, or keyless entry, or a navigation system. Add these items to the tempting $ 37,300 base MSRP and one is very quickly staring at a $47,000 compact car. Even the black paint on the BMW is a $550 option. Outfitting a Lexus IS 250 with the same equipment results in a car with a price tag of $42,000. Five grand is a very powerful motivator. We expect that Lexus will hold its price levels for the new IS 200t close to, or the same level as the current IS 250.

To its credit the BMW does come with 4 years of included maintenance compared to two for the Lexus, but the Lexus also has other features such as perforated and ventilated leather seating that the BMW will not come with.

The BMW 3 Series is the company’s mainstay. Although it has very successfully diversified its 3 series into the smaller 2, the larger 4, and many derivatives like the X3, the 3 Series is still BMW’s main line of business. The 328i is its heavy mover. Lexus IS line is coming on strong since its redesign last year. Sales effectively doubled and are now growing to rival the 3 Series. Lexus’ wise move to update its base model to use a more capable engine might close that gap completely in the next year or so.

Related Stories:
Turbocharged engine for the 2015 Lexus IS 250 confirmed
Lexus NX 200t has a very familiar engine design that works well for BMW
2014 Lexus IS 350 beats BMW 335i in comparison test - again

Main story image is a 2014 IS 250 courtesy of Lexus Media page.


rob (not verified)    June 24, 2014 - 8:30AM

I find no other confirmation that the 2.0 turbo will be in the 2015 models. Maybe the author can comment more on the reliability of his claim. All other publications say this will happen in 2015 for tbe 2016 models.

Neil Baer (not verified)    June 24, 2014 - 5:56PM

Wow - does this mean all those Lexus commercials dissing the BMW 3 series for having a four cylinder engine will go away? Wonder how Lexus will backtrack on that...
The 250 should be a competitive car but it won't have the same ZF 8 speed automatic, which helps the 328 smoke a lot of cars.
And the BMW won't cost quite as much as the author claims. Black is not a chargeable color. Black metallic is (along with any other metallic color). And you can meet all the IS 250 features for less than $46,000. A bit smaller gap. And the Lexus won't have a heads up display, seats as good in the corners, an assist program and a few other things the BMW will.
You get what you pay for.

John Goreham    June 24, 2014 - 8:38PM

In reply to by Neil Baer (not verified)

Good comment! You're right about the transmissions. Lexus' RWD IS cars now use their own 8-speed transmissions. To date, Lexus has chosen not to outsource that critical component (preferring to use their own design). BMW presently uses the same transmission supplier as Chrysler for its 8-speed, as you note. The Lexus commercial department has been busy with backtracking lately, that is also very true.

John m (not verified)    October 9, 2014 - 9:37AM

I work for a Lexus store! The word is this engine will be in the IS, GS, & RC sometime during 2015 as 2016 models! Power levels are expected to be increased somewhat for the different applications!