For some, it’s not enough to simply have fine leather and a list of high-tech gadgets that make all the conveniences you never knew you needed possible. No, some need to feel the term “luxury” in the way their car moves; they need a drive that takes them to a world of excitement with the very turn, shake and rumble of the crankshaft. For those, we have the Lexus IS-F.
The car was engineered on the Fuji racetrack, hence the ”F” in its name. It was designed by a small group of Lexus engineers who were major enthusiasts and dreamt of creating a car they wanted to drive. The outcome is a well crafted monster similar to the singing Sirens. Beautiful look, beautiful sound, and then you are face to face and realize you’ve come to a battle a deadly behemoth.
The truly exciting part of the IS-F is the exterior. The aggressive sport body and stainless-steel exhaust tips that seamlessly merged with a sedan bellowing premium luxury. Beneath the bonnet you find the car’s fire breathing 5.0-Liter V8 engine, which produces 416 hp and 371 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with the car’s 8-Speed Direct-Shift Sport transmission, power output is precise and without hesitation.
The pick up to this vehicle is amazing. With all the features loaded inside, you’d think the weight would hold it back from reaching 0-60 in even 5 seconds. But it does better, reaching 0-60 in a smooth 4.6 seconds and roaring to a top speed of 175 mph. However, we were somewhat disappointed in the Brembo brake calipers, which take more than one hundred feet to come to a complete stop from high speeds.
The control of the vehicle wrapping around street corners was effortless. Cruising around beautiful St. Petersburg and crossing into Clearwater was nearly ideal with the open highways and curvy winds by the Gulf of Mexico. Even changing lanes we could feel the perfected touch of the machine’s connection to the road, a feel a sports car could only possibly develop from the craftsmanship and trials of the Fuji speedway.
With this experience, you really don’t even need the luxury features to enjoy yourself. The drive, the feel, the power of a racecar, and up until stepping inside, one wouldn’t even recognize its abilities if it wasn’t for the “F” badge on the rear.
Don’t get me wrong, the luxury is incredibly nice; brilliant, actually. The leather trimmed “F” Sport bucket seats are comfortable and hold both the driver and passenger in place around every corner. Even while dropping a gear and wrapping the shoulders of the St. Petersburg highways, we found little body roll and every bit of control behind the wheel.
The cluster gauge consists of electroluminescent “F” Spec optimum gauges for the extra track feel. The list goes on and on, full of the “F” spec trims on Lexus’ luxury touches, but the basic idea is you get everything you could want, and more. Top line Lexus premium sound system, personalized settings, navigation system and so much more.
Being given the opportunity to drive this immaculate sports car for an entire week was exciting, and it was a shame to have to give it back. I have to disagree with speculations that, with the “F” line-up, Lexus is only trying to be BMW. While the performance and class are similar, and the drive is of a breed similar to the “M” class, it holds a similar track nature to its competitor, though technically a bit slower. Lexus is making their way up the food chain, creating the best they have to offer, and doing an incredible job.
Comparing the two sports cars seems somewhat wrong, as what we have here are two cars built from ground up to deliver on the demands of two different racetracks. We hope to see where the IS-F will be alongside comparable “M” series in the future, and to see who will be “pretending” to be the true racecar.