Back in February, I had an opportunity to go to Las Vegas for 3 days to drive new IS-F. I work for a dealership in New Jersey and my General Manager thought I would be the right person to drive this vehicle at a race track than others at our dealership since I consider myself as a driving enthusiast.
I've always owned a BMW all my life and love BMW's handling and braking. Over the years, I became a BMW enthusiast, not just a driving enthusiast. When my GM told me that I was chosen to go to Las Vegas for IS-F, I was not too enthusiastic about driving an IS-F. I figure it was going to be one of those muscle cars that have all the linear acceleration without precise lateral handling. I always enjoyed precision driving rather than just pure acceleration.
However, my perception that I've had for years about Lexus changed very first time I drove IS-F on the street. Lexus first let us drive it on Highways and local streets. As soon as I first stepped on its accelerator, I noticed its beautiful sound of engine. As soon as engine reached about 4000 rpm, it started to roar like a huge tiger! I just fell in love with its acceleration and sound of engine but had to slow down the car immediately back to about 70mph. I was not going to get pulled over in Las Vegas and get a speeding ticket when I have no idea if police will take PBA cards from NJ/NY. I also noticed that IS-F much handled like a BMW rather than Lexus yet it was more comfortable ride in street than E46 M3 and M roadster my friends have. I also noticed that its Automatic transmission shifts faster than my 2004 BMW 330CI with SMG when I shifted from paddle shift. I still had my doubts about this 8 speed automatic transmission when I was driving the vehicle until I spoke with product specialist from Lexus Corporate. This transmission locks torque converter from 2nd through 8th gear when you are in Manual sport mode which works like a clutch where you do not loss any power through drive train. This is very impressive and knew right away that this is far superior system than SMG that my BMW has. On top of it, this transmission let me 'blip'! I was only able to 'blip' in Grand Turismo 4 on PS2, never in real life.
2nd day was more of learning the limit of IS-F and how to drive on race track from professional drivers from Driving Connection. Learning how to control in understeering and oversteering situations, how to downshift properly before taking turns and how to take a turn in right apex were a lot more fun in a real car than it was for GT4. At the end of the day, they let us drive the IS-F on Las Vegas Motor Speedway Classic Course. It was at moderate speed but I started to get hang of it by the end.
On 3rd day, we were able to drive the IS-F on the track as fast as we can drive without losing control. Now this was a lot of fun! I do not think I ever had more fun driving cars in my life before. I was able to push the IS-F to its limit to my best ability. Only way I can describe how it handled the race track is to compare it to basketball players. I have friends who have cars that can accelerate as fast or even faster. I will compare those cars to Shaq O'Neil, Very powerful in one way, but not great in all aspects of game. IS-F handled to race track like Michael Jordan. It handled every corner with precision turning and was able to accelerate like a jet. There is nothing that I can think of that IS-F lacks with. This is one Lexus that I will really love to be able to drive. I never thought that I will consider anything else but BMW but this one is a driving machine! From the very first moment I drove this car, I just fell in love with it. Maybe my GM should give me a significant raise so that I can afford one.
After being able to drive IS-F for 3 days, my favorites of the IS-F is sound of engine, superb braking and precise handling. As matter of fact, I personally will never turn its stereo system on for music. Why listen to music when it's best sound system is under the hood!
There is so much to talk about this car that I do not have enough time to write everything in this forum. I just figure I will share my story with IS-F lovers out there. If you already own one, God bless you. I'm jealous. If you are thinking of ordering one and can afford one, God bless you too because I wish I can afford one too. If you are seriously considering IS-F over new M3, SR4 or C63 AMG, believe me, you ought to drive this one before you make your final decision. I'm lucky to have a lot of well off friends who have them and this one will make you very happy.