Lexus has long competed in the luxury car market, but with some recent tough competition from both Japanese and European competitors, Lexus has increased the ante with a new series of high-performance cars aimed at a younger, enthusiast-oriented crowd.
The Lexus IS-F is the first of Lexus' LINEUP of tracks tier models. It is the last Incarnation of the Lexus IS, a rear-wheel-drive, entry-level compact sport sedan introduced in Japan a decade ago, and brought to the United States for the 2001 model year. The "F" refers to the Lexus' newly formed F-Sport division, which is expected to churn out high-performance versions of Lexus models designed to rival high-end European sport sedan and coupe. While Lexus F denotation used internally in the past for special projects, IS-F will be the first production car to carry the F marque.
There is much speculation over what the "F" stands for. Early on, it was widely circulated among enthusiasts, it stood for "fast". Lexus executives later suggested it could be an acronym for "Circle-F" (Toyota's original code name for the Lexus division), "flagship" or even "Fuji," after the racetrack in Oyama, Japan, where the car was extensively tested during the development process. F logo is also said to resemble 27r, the first corner of the famous road course.
Current Lexus IS-F
The current Lexus IS-F debuted for the 2008 model year. Although not yet confirmed by Lexus, the IS-F coupe is expected to follow sometime after the launch of the sedan.
IS-F's controversial styling definitively has properties all its own. These include a unique - but aesthetically dubious - quad exhaust design, which shows up as two staggered, vertically stacked ovals on the left and right side of the car's rear end. The Lexus IS-F also features aerodynamic improvements on the hood and front bumper, wider front Fenders and a rear spoiler, all of which gives the car a more aggressive, but anything after the market look.
IS-F's under the hood is a 5.0-liter V8 engine tuned to produce a mighty respectable 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque. It is an eight-speed automatic, controlled by paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Other features include high-performance engine oil and transmission fluid coolers and an oil pump designed for high speed oscillation. The IS-F is also equipped with a new, results-oriented version of Lexus' electronic stability control system.
Major standard features on the Lexus IS-F includes 19-inch BBS forged alloy wheels, Bi-Xenon headlights, leather upholstery, power / heated front sports seats and a Rear-seat trunk pass-through opening. The standard 13-speaker audio system comes with a six-disc in-dash changer and an auxiliary audio jack. Options include an upgraded Mark Levinson surround-sound system, as well as a navigation system with touchscreen, voice activation, a back-up camera and Bluetooth.
In reviews, we found that the Lexus IS-F's strengths include the impressive handling and braking capabilities. The automatic transmission also works surprisingly well, as long as it is placed in manual mode when left in automatic mode, its movements are not as predictable as we would like. Although the Lexus claims a 4.6-second 0-60 time of the IS-F, our test car was 2/10ths of a second slower still impressive by anyone's standards fast.