When Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota Motor Corporation, said he wanted the Lexus brand to be more sporty, this is what he had in mind. The Lexus GS models are rear-wheel-drive sports sedans. The entry GS 200t is a new model for 2016 that comes with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Our tester had the F Sport performance package that should ramp up the fun-to-drive meter even more.
This week, we drove this new Lexus to see if it keeps up with the tough German competition that Toyoda says he wants to beat.
What’s New For 2016?
The 2016 Lexus GS 200t is a new model that joins the GS 350 and GS 450h as stablemates. It features a four-cylinder turbo engine that competes with models from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. For 2016, there’s an infotainment upgrade with streaming audio, iHeartRadio, and improved map views.
There’s also a Siri EyesFree mode for use with iPhones.
Features & Options
The 2016 Lexus GS 200t ($45,615) features leather, heated and cooled front seats, rearview camera, satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming audio, and Remote Touch, a mouse-like controller.
The performance F Sport package ($7,670) adds 19-inch wheels with summer tires, unique exterior styling and interior trim, rear spoiler, sport-tuned adaptive suspension, variable-ratio steering, upgraded brakes, and 12-way adjustable sport seats with four-way power lumbar.
The Safety System Plus package ($635) features adaptive cruise control with lane-departure warning and intervention. A forward collision warning system that includes pedestrian detection and forward collision mitigation with automatic braking is also available. A 17-speaker premium Mark Levinson sound system ($1,380) and Navigation ($1,730) adds voice controls, a larger 12.3-inch display, and Enform smartphone app integration.
Total MSRP on the GS 200t came to $59,200 including destination.
What do we like? The solid black interior in this GS 200t has a simplicity to it that we enjoyed. The dash and console is clean and uncluttered. There’s a big 12.3-inch, high-resolution display tucked into the center of the stylish dash, unlike others that stick out like a sore thumb. What don’t we like? The Lexus Remote Touch, mouse-like controller for the infotainment and climate control. It’s difficult to operate, touchy, and a pain to figure out.
We had the F Sport package but the only indication inside is the F Sport logo on the steering wheel and the aluminum pedals. The leather seats are accommodating and heated and cooled for comfort in any weather. The seats are supportive and the 12-way adjustable sport driver’s seat made it easy to find the perfect driving position.
The back seat is fairly roomy and comes with contoured bucket seats that are comfortable for two adults on long trips. Three adults will be cramped but it’s okay for a short trip to the restaurant on your lunch hour. There’s also rear climate control vents while a power rear shade drops down to keep the rear occupants protected from the heat.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2016 Lexus GS 200t comes with a peppy turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 241 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that drives the rear wheels.
EPA fuel mileage ratings are 21/30 city/highway and 24 combined mpg.
What did we like? The 2016 Lexus GS 200t does ramp up the fun-to-drive meter. On the twisty mountain curves west of Denver, the sports sedan was a willing partner as we pushed it hard around the corners. The F Sport package seemed to elevate its road-hugging prowess and kept it firmly planted. The F Sport’s larger 19-inch wheels, stiffer suspension, and performance-oriented summer tires do diminish comfort somewhat, but that’s why you buy the performance package.
What we didn’t like? We found there’s a delay when you step on the gas pedal. The turbocharger does have some lag and it takes a moment for the turbocharger and transmission to decide what to do. Lexus offers paddle shifters which helps the GS 200t override any issues with the transmission and turbo disconnect.
The ride is reasonably smooth on the open road and the cabin is quite like you would expect. Overall, the new turbo four-cylinder is a good option for driving enthusiasts and it still delivers good fuel mileage, if you can keep your foot out of the pedal.
Akio Toyoda had a goal to make the Lexus brand more sporty and he’s definitely delivering on that promise. The GS 200t offers enough performance to satisfy driving enthusiasts, and the F Sport ramps up the fun-to-drive meter to a 7 out of 10. The cabin is comfortable and the overall experience is a pleasurable one for daily commuting or taking your date out for a night on the town.
*Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy