The IS F is to Lexus' IS sedan range what the M3 is to BMW's 3-Series lineup - a serious performance sedan designed to put a big smile on the driver's face. It represents a marked departure from the luxurious but somewhat sedate cars on which Lexus has built its reputation.
While the IS F was criticized for an overly harsh ride when it first launched, Lexus has since addressed with a retuned suspension while also adding an updated electronic power steering system and a Torsen rear differential. For the latest model year, the IS F gets several handling-focused tweaks in the form of increased spring and damper rates and larger-diameter stabilizer bars.
The heart of the IS F is a 5.0-liter V8 engine delivering 416 horsepower at 6600 rpm and 371 pound-feet of torque at 5200 rpm. This motor is mated to the world's first eight-speed "direct sport-shift" transmission. A new torque-converter lock-up control was developed that allows for a direct, crisp gear change through the constant lock-up of the torque converter in the second through eighth gears.
In Drive mode, the IS-F transmission performs smoothly, and the torque converter allows for quick zero to 60 mph acceleration of 4.6 seconds. The transmission also features a manual mode operated via a pair of paddles. Downshifts are accompanied by automated throttle blips to match engine RPM to vehicle speed.
Despite the IS F's high-performance nature, it still delivers decent fuel economy: 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.
Heavy-duty Brembo brakes with 14.2-inch discs and six-piston calipers ensure all the power is kept under control. The IS-F features custom-designed 19-inch forged alloy wheels with 225/40R19 sized rubber up front and 255/35R19 at the rear as standard.
Lexus claims the IS-F can hit a top speed of over 185 mph, though the U.S. version is limited to 168 mph.
Lexus recently updated the interior with new IP gauges, a silver colored-trimmed steering wheel, and dark finish aluminum composite ornamentation. The Sport mode switch has also been moved to the steering wheel for easier access.
In addition, vehicles with the black interior received Alcantara seat inserts with leather bolsters that enhance its sportiness. An all-new Orange and Black leather interior with contrast stitching flaunts the IS F's attitude and replaces the Terra Cotta interior.
For the latest model year, the optional navigation system has been updated with the latest version of Lexus' Enform infotainment system. Enform provides access to Bing search, iHeartRadio, MovieTickets.com, OpenTable, Pandora, Yelp and Facebook Places through compatible smart phones.
Standard and Optional Features
The IS F comes well equipped with perforated leather upholstery, a 13-speaker premium sound system with a six-disc CD changer, SiriusXM satellite radio and USB/AUX input jacks, Bluetooth connectivity, aluminum pedals and 19-inch forged aluminum alloy wheels.
Highlights from the options list include a 14-speaker Mark Levinson sound system, heated and ventilated from seats and a navigation system.
All IS F models come standard with dual front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems and brake assist.
The IS F is aimed at performance-focused sedans like the BMW M3, the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and the Cadillac CTS-V.