Last month I had the opportunity to drive a 2010 Lexus IS F for a week, and since this is one of the hottest four doors on the market it's a worthy addition to Haulers and Sedans month.
Previously I'd spent some time in an F-Sport-equipped IS350, and while that was an entertaining ride, it's really just an appetizer to the V8-powered IS F.
After hopping into the IS F for the first time, everything inside seemed pretty similar to other IS models – typical Lexus fit and finish, high quality materials and all that. But once I got onto the road and rolled into the throttle a bit things changed…
The 5.0 liter V8 in this car is a screamer, and with 416 horses to play with, it's a quick car. Enough to embarrass my Mustang GT for sure. It's not just the power though, the quick revving nature of the engine makes it feel like an exotic machine.
After experiencing the Yamaha-tuned V8 in this car, it's not all surprising that Lotus is planning to use this engine as the basis for its new models. It definitely has the credentials.
Most people find the IS F's 8-speed auto trans to be it's biggest drawback. Not the transmission itself, but the lack of a proper manual gearbox on the option box.
While I agree that an old fashioned clutch and gearshift would be a blast in this car, I found the auto to be perfectly adequate.
The shifts were fast, and the car felt much more alive than V6/Auto combination I experienced in the IS350.
Another thing that added to the "alive" feeling of the IS F was the glorious exhaust note of the V8. The sounds enter the air through those unique stacked exhaust tips. When the IS F first came out, we weren't sure what to think about those tips, but now there's car builders in Japan adding IS F style pipes to their VIP builds. Interesting.
The 19 inch wheels look great, and you can catch a glimpse of the massive front rotors behind the spokes.
While the IS F is a serious performance machine, its far from a stripped out track day special. I made several trips and between my house and Irwindale Speedway in the car, and it was a totally comfortable place to be. The seats are comfy, the ride quality is decent, and all the luxo features of the standard IS are carried over.
The car I sampled came in the IS F's signature Ultrasonic Blue Mica – which looked gorgeous under the setting sun at Irwindale Speedway.
The IS F starts out at 59,000 USD and while that's not cheap by any means, you do get a lot of the car for the money. You get the performance, the luxury items, the fit and finish, and if past Lexus models are anything to go by, owning one should be a trouble free experience for years to come. It's a well-balanced car and obviously a lot of passion put into it.
Seeing as this is only the first iteration of the IS F, I think we have a lot to look forward to as Lexus continues to establish itself as a serious performance car maker.
The IS F is a fantastic all around car, and I'm already giddy thinking of what gearheads at Lexus might have in store for the next generation of this car.