When Lexus set out to build its first turbocharged petrol engine, it said motors had to fulfil the seemingly contradictory promises of smoothness, power and fuel efficiency. And in order to ensure the new forced-induction engines would be worthy of the brand, the turbos that go into Lexus cars are developed entirely in-house. These turbochargers are packed full of innovation and they can now be found almost throughout the Lexus range, making appearances in its saloons, the IS and GS; or its NX and RX SUVs.
The road to developing the first turbo engine in Lexus history involved over a million kilometres of real-world testing (in the harshest conditions, no less) and it shows, because it has resulted in one of the world’s finest and most advanced turbo engines. When Lexus debuted its turbocharged engine on the NX compact SUV, it was the first in the world to come equipped with a combination of water-cooled cylinder head, integrated exhaust manifold and twinscroll turbocharger.
In addition, the engines also feature variable wastegate control, and can automatically switch operating modes between the powerful Otto cycle and efficient Atkinson cycle. Packed with innovation though it may be, you’d be hard pressed to feel all that at work. You will, however, experience the difference once you squeeze the throttle and feel a smooth, seamless surge of power without a hint of turbo lag. Or how little you seem to be visiting the pumps of late, thanks to how fuel-efficient the engine is. Even the engine management software has been tuned extensively, so there are no sudden spikes in the engine’s power curve for smoothness, safety during spirited driving and of course, comfort.
Suffice it to say, a Lexus turbocharged engine is also highly refined, eliminating unwanted noises, but enhancing the distinctive ones, paying so much attention as to use a non-woven, porous fabric for a duct. The result is an engine note that can only be described as sporty, yet genteel. In other words, something uniquely Lexus. You don’t feel those innovations working, but it’s always there in the background, delivering the sort of driving experience you’ve come to expect from the marque.