Lexus, the company known primarily for reliable, nearly silent, flawlessly efficient passenger cars, has tossed the formula out the window with the IS-F.
The 2008 Lexus IS-F is a captivating performance sedan built for the involved driver. It's a car that encourages and rewards spirited driving, and with a top speed of 168 mph, the IS-F is by far the fastest car Lexus has ever made.
To describe the Lexus IS-F as fun to drive would be bland understatement. This is an authentic performance car that brings smiles to professional driving instructors and racers on the world's fastest racetracks. For the average driver, this is a car so able, so secure, it changes the way you see the road.
Lexus test drivers have logged 0-60 times in 4.6 seconds, but straight-ahead acceleration is only one aspect of the IS-F's performance envelope. It's a car built for high G-forces and quick stopping.
Combining an eight-speed transmission and a 5.0-liter V8 that puts out 416 horsepower, the IS-F readily attains higher speeds than the IS 250 or IS 350. Better grip comes from a wider stance, heftier suspension components with less unsprung weight, outstanding brakes, and the most advanced electronic traction enhancements.
Unlike some performance sedans, the Lexus IS-F is not particularly tiring to drive in ordinary day-to-day situations. There is no heavy clutch, the seats can be comfy for hours at a time, and the ride is not overly firm at low speeds. An outstanding audio system is available. Because the IS-F is EPA-rated to deliver 16 mpg City, 23 Highway, it will not be subject to the hefty federal Gas Guzzler Tax.
From a business point of view, the IS-F is more than just the third model in the IS lineup. This is the first of perhaps several cars that will be launched with the F designation, which Lexus hopes to build into an icon.
A detailed pricing list will be released a few weeks before the IS-F goes on sale March 1. Lexus marketing officials have said that they intend to be competitive with comparable cars, such as the BMW M3. The Neiman Marcus edition, which includes a number of unique features, goes into the company's Christmas catalog at $68,000.
The Lexus IS-F is the third model in the IS lineup, following the IS 250 and IS 350. While the IS 250 and IS 350 are certainly fun-to-drive, sporty cars, the IS-F is intended to be a no-compromise performance sedan. As such, it's a flagship capable of extending the brand, and a conspicuous showpiece of Lexus capability and intentions.