Toyota Motor Corp. is under way with a global play to take its Lexus premium nameplate to the industry's top tier.

To achieve parity with the world's best, Toyota knows powertrain technology and performance must be a top priority.

The all-new Lexus 3.5L DOHC V-6, a first-time 10 Best Engines winner, is one of the first of a new generation of Toyota engines to use direct-injection gasoline (DIG) technology, which company engineers say will be a cornerstone of the Lexus brand's initiative to be a powertrain-technology leader. In the coming years, all Lexus gasoline engines are to employ direct injection.

Using a novel new system that combines DIG and port fuel injection, the new Toyota V-6 (code name 2GR-FSE) generates a scorching 306 hp, a figure that leads the class of premium V-6s.

The new 3.5L V-6's stout horsepower exceeds that of more than a few well-regarded V-8s.

The direct/indirect fuel-injection system also delivers laudable fuel economy improvements and an Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV-II) rating.

The over-the-top fueling arrangement results in dazzling throttle response and ready acceleration from virtually any engine speed.

Toyota engineers say by adding indirect fueling to the DIG system (there are two fuel injectors for each cylinder), intake-mixture formation is optimized, maximizing the benefits of DIG: improved low- and midrange torque, reduced fuel consumption and better emissions.

At high engine loads, only the DIG fueling is employed, making the most of DIG's ability to cool the intake charge and generate a denser, power-producing air/fuel mix.

In low- and part-load conditions, the 3.5L DOHC V-6 uses both injection systems, cutting fuel consumption and emissions, while simultaneously enhancing torque production by as much as 30%.

The complex top end is an elegant addition to the already excellent new port-injected DOHC V-6 architecture used in many Toyota-brand models.

In addition to the innovative fueling system, the new V-6 uses a host of other high-tech components, such as a unique plastic water-jacket spacer that prioritizes coolant for the upper block to reduce cylinder-head temperatures.

The technology affords a meaningful performance payoff for the all-new IS 350 sport sedan – and Lexus' global brand-hiking intentions.

Apart from the eager acceleration, torque comes in abundance. The new Lexus V-6 rips for the redline with a magnificent 280 lb.-ft. (380 Nm) blast – a torque output that begins to threaten that of V-8s with a liter or more of displacement.

The high compression ratio (11.8:1) enabled by the direct-injection fueling is a tip-off to this engine's heady power and efficiency potential.

The city-cycle 21 mpg (11.2 L/100 km) and 28 mpg (8.4 L/100 km) highway fuel economy leads the entry sport-sedan class that relies on high-output 6-cyl. power (however, BMW's new 3L DOHC I-6 scores a better highway mpg figure).

Toyota's new 3.5L DOHC V-6 is a marvelous technical development by any measure – the new performance, efficiency and refinement standard for 6-cyl. engines.

Judges' Comments

Winter: Utterly awesome engine, especially at this price point.

Murphy: Always a sense of urgency with this engine in all ranges. Refinement beyond comparison.

Toyota Motor Corp. 3.5L DOHC V-6

Engine Chart

Engine type: 3.5L DOHC 60° V-6

Displacement (cc): 3,456

Block/head material: aluminum/aluminum

Bore x stroke (mm): 94 x 83

Horsepower (SAE net): 306 @ 6,400 rpm

Torque: 277 lb.-ft. (376 Nm) @ 4,800 rpm

Specific output: 87 hp/L

Compression ratio: 11.8:1

Fuel economy for tested vehicle (EPA city/highway mpg): 21/28

Application tested: Lexus IS 350

bvisnic@primediabusiness.com