In late May, Toyota announced an all-new family of four-cylinder gasoline engines with 1.5- and 2.0-liter displacements. These will be more compact and lighter while delivering extra power and better fuel economy. The smaller of the two will come in naturally aspirated and turbocharged flavors while the other one is being engineered with forced induction. A new video allows us to hear what Toyota is working on.

Posted on the Toyota Times magazine’s official YouTube channel is an interesting video of a stripped-down prototype. Although the car is a “secret” and as such has been intentionally blurred out, its spartan cabin tells us we’re dealing with a Lexus IS. Shot in Japan at the Fuji Speedway, the video allows us to hear Toyota’s newly developed four-banger for the first time. We’re pleasantly surprised it sounds great, so much so it would be a perfect match for a sports car.

The engine is still being developed and Toyota doesn’t say whether the prototype had the 1.5 or the 2.0. Sitting behind the wheel on that Bride red bucket seat is Takashi Uehara, essentially the man in charge of engine development. We can see him changing gears by using the paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. Hopefully, subsequent production cars will have a stick shift option. Toyota Times journalist Yuta Tomikawa is riding shotgun in the modified Lexus.

Because the engine is a work in progress, there’s a lot of measurement hardware where you’d normally find the rear seats in the IS. Curiously, Toyota blurred out the center console so as not to reveal what we can only assume is something interesting. Judging by the soundtrack, it seems to be a rev-happy engine. Uehara mentions that thanks to its smaller size, the gas engine is mounted further back, lowering the center of gravity and reducing the vibrations felt through the cabin.

The engine boss at Toyota goes as far as to say it’ll be a “totally new engine.” He teases us by mentioning the version mounted in the Lexus IS is being developed specifically for “car lovers who expect a little something extra.” That tells us it’ll one day power a performance car. It’s too early to tell whether it’ll go in the next-gen GR86 but we wouldn’t be surprised.

<p>New Toyota 1.5-liter naturally aspirated engine</p>

New Toyota 1.5-liter engine

We’ll remind you the naturally aspirated 1.5-liter is being developed to replace the current three-cylinder found in a wide variety of models. It’ll be 10 percent smaller in volume, height, and weight to “revolutionize vehicle packaging.” When the engine was originally announced, Toyota installed it in a current-generation Prius to highlight the height difference. This gives designers the freedom to lower the hood and create EV-like front sections for better aerodynamics to achieve greater efficiency. For sedans, the company projects fuel economy will go up by 12 percent.

The turbocharged 1.5-liter unit will be 20 percent smaller in volume compared to the NA 2.5-liter engine currently in use. In addition, Toyota aims to lower its height by 15 percent and boost efficiency by as much as 30 percent. The latter part seems overly ambitious to be honest.

<p>New Toyota 2.0-liter engine</p>

New Toyota 2.0-liter engine

As for the bigger 2.0-liter turbo engine, it’ll be 10 percent smaller and lighter than the existing 2.4-liter mill. At the same time, Toyota touts extra power and also a 30-percent increase in fuel economy. Much like the 1.5-liter engines, the 2.0 is being developed with electrification in mind.

There’s still no word about when the engines will be installed in production cars. Since development hasn’t ended, it seems unlikely they’ll be ready for a vehicle programmed to come out in 2025. A report from The Financial Times claims the first cars with the new engines are due in late 2026.

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Last Update: July 11, 2024