Could Bimmer’s six-cylinder engine be what the Lexus IS needs to beat BMW with its own engine?

Is it possible that Toyota’s existing partnership with BMW could extend into a Lexus? That’s what a report from Japan’s Best Car magazine is saying. According to the report, the next-generation Lexus IS sports sedan will be powered by the same 335-horsepower, 3.0-liter, turbocharged, straight-six that you can find under the hood of a recently released Toyota sports car that’s been dominating the news lately. If the reports are true, the next-generation IS could share the same engine with the Toyota Supra and, by extension, the BMW Z4. Whether using that engine is enough to elevate the IS’ standing in the premium compact luxury market remains to be seen. It would definitely be interesting to see it compete against BMW and the almighty 3 Series with an engine that comes from, well, BMW.

Will Toyota Source More Engines From BMW?

2020 Toyota Supra Exterior
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Just when you thought the Toyota-BMW partnership wouldn’t take another interesting turn, it takes a sharp one into the world of Lexus.

So Japan’s Best Car magazine says that the next-generation Lexus IS sports sedan could feature the same BMW-sourced 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six engine that the Toyota Supra has.

The report adds that Bimmer’s I-6 engine would be one of a handful of engine options that will be available in the next-gen Lexus IS, joining Lexus’ incumbent 2.0-liter turbo, 2.4-liter turbo, and 2.5-liter hybrid. What’s missing from that lineup is the 3.5-liter V-6 engine that’s currently found under the hood of the existing Lexus IS 350. Is it possible, then, that BMW’s inline-six unit will replace the 3.5-liter V-6? That’s what the Japanese magazine is alluding to.

The twists don’t end there, either. Once the next-generation Lexus IS arrives, the report says that it could bring with it the IS F performance sedan, which has been noticeably absent from the current-generation IS lineup. The last time we saw the IS F, it was based on the second-generation IS, which went out of production in 2013. Lexus doesn’t appear to have any plans to introduce an IS F version that’s based on the current third-generation IS, so if it does make a comeback, it could happen once the next-generation IS arrives. The question on everybody’s mind is if the next-generation IS features BMW’s inline-six engine, what kind of engine will sit under the hood of the performance-spec IS F? Could Lexus dust off its ubiquitous 5.0-liter V-8 engine and bring it back for another go-round with the rumored next-gen IS F or is Toyota’s premium brand opting for its new 3.5-liter V-6 engine, which, coincidentally, produces the same output — 416 horsepower — in the current LS 500 as the long-winded V-8 did in the last IS F.

2019 BMW Z4 High Resolution
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0-liter with 340 HP

As it is, the current-generation Lexus IS is in its sixth year in the market. There are already talks that the fourth-generation model will arrive as early as 2000. That’d be in line with the seven-to-eight year lifespan of the first- and second-gen versions of the IS.

Even if BMW’s inline-six engine finds its way into the next-generation IS, it’s not a foregone conclusion that it will be tuned to the same power and performance specs as the Supra, or even the new Z4 Roadster, for that matter.

Remember, the IS isn’t competing with these two performance cars; it’s competing in the compact premium sports sedan segment that includes the aforementioned 3 Series, as well as the Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, and Acura TLX. That’s a murderer’s row of rivals in a segment that Lexus has had moderate success in.

While I do see the irony in using a BMW engine to beat the BMW 3 Series, I think it’s a smart move on Lexus’ part and a not-so-smart move on Bimmer’s side of the fence. If I were BMW, I’m not going to supply a rival with an engine that it can use against one of my most popular models, if not the most popular one. It’d be like supplying arms to an enemy that’s going to use those same arms to wipe me off the face of this planet.

2017 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
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Then again, if Lexus — or is it Toyota? — pays a premium to source Bimmer’s engine, none of this might matter in the long run.

What’s important to know, at least for now, is that the current-generation IS is about to give way to the next-generation model in 2020.

We’ll know what Lexus’ plans are for that fourth-generation IS soon enough. That includes whether Bimmer’s 3.0-liter inline-six engine finds its way into the next-generation IS.

There’s no shortage of intrigue in this business, is there?

Further reading

The 2021 Lexus IS Could Inherit the 2020 Toyota Supra's BMW-Sourced Inline-Six High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the current 2018 Lexus IS.

2014 Lexus IS F High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the previous 2014 Lexus IS F.

2020 Toyota Supra
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Read our full review on the 2020 Toyota Supra.

2019 BMW Z4
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Read our full review on the 2020 BMW Z4.

Source: Best Car web

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