If there’s one area of this car where Lexus has absolutely nailed what a super-saloon should be, it’s under the IS-F’s borderline-ludicrous bonnet bulge. Freed from the refinement and economy shackles of its hybrid applications, this 5.0-litre V8 is far and away the most engaging motor Lexus produces.
The delivery itself is relatively peaky. Maximum power arrives at 6600rpm, passing the torque peak at 5200rpm, and with a 7000rpm red line this is a high-revving engine. At MIRA’s test track the IS-F couldn’t quite match Lexus’s acceleration claims, although 5.2sec to 60mph and 12.3sec to 100mph are very respectable figures.
But for all its revving, the IS-F’s powerband is not narrow enough to justify eight forward ratios. Left to its own devices, you’re aware that the ’box is making too many shifts.
The F rides just like a regular IS. It feels quite softly sprung but not softly damped; there’s a certain harshness and patter that, much like the standard car, means its ride at any speed never settles except on the smoothest of asphalt.
So on a demanding road the IS-F is slightly compromised. It is refined but does not quite control its body movements well enough. If it’s just the poise you’re after, the M3 and C63 deliver more here.
The IS-F’s overall chassis balance is very good, however. On smooth asphalt or a race track it is enjoyable and extremely exploitable. It turns in crisply, and while the steering is not overly engaging, it is accurate and direct.
A conventional limited-slip differential, rather than the F’s electronically controlled open diff, would make for smoother transitions back into line and improve traction. Better suspension control and an LSD would be enough to revolutionise what’s already a very entertaining car.
The IS-F’s brakes are excellent. Their feel and progression are good and, for a car weighing 1720kg, they have no problem routinely stopping the IS-F on a circuit.
For Engine note, chassis balance, strong brakes, high spec
AgainstLack of proper limited-slip diff, hesitant gearbox, flat seats, fidgety ride
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