Lexus is not normally put on the same plateau as fast powerful sports sedans such as the BMW M3, Mercedes C55 AMG, or Audi S4. Nevertheless, their new offering, the IS-F, should bring this company to a whole new level.
The current Lexus IS 250 and 350 are definitely nice cars; they’re easy on the eyes, have two decent engine choices and great reliability. The 250 is even reasonable on gas, but who gets excited about that? Not me. It seems the engineers down at Lexus were getting a little bored with it too. As a result, they have done the same thing car makers have been doing for years…take a popular small car and cram a huge engine, beefed up suspension and tranny in it. Add the ubiquitous extra letter, “F”, and you’ve got yourself a truly exciting car.
It seems Lexus has aimed this new beast directly at some of the most recognizable names in this ever popular market, the aforementioned Bimmer, Audi, and Mercedes. Offering 416 HP and 371 lb-ft of torque from a 5.0L V-8, this car comes equipped with astronomical power and some cool technology to keep it all firmly planted on the road.
First up is the transmission. The IS-F will not have a manual gearbox. Instead it comes with the world’s first 8 speed (that’s right 8 speed!) automatic with paddle shifters and manual mode. Lexus claims that if put in manual mode the car will shift in 100 milliseconds; I’ll bet that’s a little faster than you or I could shift a regular manual. For perspective, that’s roughly equivalent to the Ferrari F430. Lexus’ traction control “VDIM” promises to keep you out of trouble. In sport mode it will allow you to have plenty of fun without letting things get Eddie Griffin crazy. Although I don’t foresee many runs to the ski slopes in a car like this, it does comes with normal and snow mode. With the suspension promising an adequate amount of firmness to keep track day interesting, it seems a lot of input came from Toyota’s racing departments while this car was in development. It definitely shows!
Aside from all of the performance, this car is gorgeous. Check out the official Lexus website for pics and videos. Subtle changes from the base IS, including its $56k base price, definitely makes it stand out and should put it right in line with its German counterparts.
For a brand who’s average buyer is 55+, it will be interesting to see how a tire-shredding, back-end sliding, road-eating monster like this will sell. I for one think you get the best of both worlds. With bulletproof reliability and world class fit and finish on one hand then fire breathing, muscle car performance on the other, a surefire win-win is my forecast.