Lexus IS Saloon review
The IS F lacks the pedigree of German rivals, but could still upset the establishment.
Driving Lexus may have packed a 5.0-litre V8 beneath the bonnet of IS-F, but first impressions are that it is like any of the Japanese company’s units – effortlessly smooth, docile and calm. But don’t be fooled. Once past 3,700rpm, the 417bhp motor takes on a new persona, with scorching acceleration and a purposeful, loud engine note. This is every bit a super saloon, capable of in excess of 170mph! And although the engine needs to be worked hard, the fast, obedient eight-speed auto gearbox gives plenty of control. The chassis is more frustrating, as the the damping lacks control, while the electric steering is a little lifeless. The Lexus is fast, composed and technically very capable, but doesn’t quite have the sharp handling or driver involvement of the best in the class.
Marketplace With its stacked exhausts, raised bonnet, bulging arches and prominent vents, the IS F aims to change people’s perception of Lexus. Until now, the brand has been known for legendary service, faultless reliability and polished build. The new super-saloon gives the brand a sporting edge without diminishing its traditional attributes. The IS F is up against some stiff competition though, with the BMW M3 saloon and Mercedes C 63 AMG in particular proving to be tough opponents.
Owning Inside, this is no stripped-out racer. Equipment levels are excellent, with 10 airbags, sat nav and electric everything. On a more fundamental level, though, the driving position isn’t that adaptable. The plush seats don’t hug you enough and you sit too high, so headroom is tight. The chunky windscreen pillars restrict vision and leave you feeling claustrophobic – a sensation shared with passengers sitting in the cramped rear. Build quality is absolutely faultless, while retained values should also be rock solid. But the fuel economy is not nearly as impressive - we averaged just 15 mpg, with a best of 20mpg on a motorway cruise!