The high performance Lexus IS-F was waiting at Sky Harbor airport (Phoenix) when Ruth and I flew in to see the penultimate Nascar race for 2014, and we immediately jumped in for our ride up to Scottsdale to our hotel. When you fire it up with the push button starter, the big engine rumbles to life and reminds you that this is a compact car with Lexus’ biggest V-8 stuffed under the hood. It’s a 5.0-liter, dual overhead cam, 32 valve masterpiece with 416 horsepower and 371 lb. ft. of torque. And it’s coupled to an eight speed, sport-direct shift automatic transmission that is as smooth as silk.
When I pulled onto AZ Route 101 and stomped on the accelerator, I was somewhat startled at the sound emanating from under the hood. This Lexus V-8 features a dual air intake system that kicks open a secondary inlet (at 3,600 rpm) to give the big engine an extra gulp of air for enhanced acceleration. And what a sound! Plus, the four-tip, low restriction, semi-dual exhaust system really screams, as well. Advertised zero to 60 mph time is 4.6 seconds, and I am willing to take their word for that. Also advertised is a top speed of 170 mph and I am willing to, well, you know…. The speedometer reads up to 200 mph!
This particular model was “Nebula Gray Pearl” outside with a red and black leather interior. I found myself pretty well surrounded by the front buckets (it has four in the cabin), and lots of adjustments are on hand. “F” logos are stitched in several places on the seating, and “F” chrome emblems are on the fenders. I think it stands for the Fuji Speedway in Japan, where extensive performance testing of the Lexus IS-F took place. This model launched the high-performance “F” line of Lexus automobiles.
The ride is definitely performance related and if you want a smooth ride in this car, find a smooth road to drive it on. Features include double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear, and big Brembo brakes are on hand. With the suspension setup, the snappy eight-speed automatic, and the rowdy V-8, just cruising around Phoenix is a kick in the pants (that is a good thing).
The console and dashboard feature some dark aluminized composite trim and cool, ambient lighting is on the doors; blue needles indicate goings-on over the gauges. The car I had in my possession featured the $3,410.00 optional hard-drive-based navigation system and Mark Levinson, 14-speaker surround sound stereo system. The navigation screen reveals a color picture of your rear view, and the steering wheel is a handsome two-toned leather (again, red and black with radio controls and transmission paddles), and the shift knob is red leather. Counting the aforementioned stereo, navigation, and freight, the Lexus carried a sticker price of $68,170.00. This automobile is designed for four people and the trunk holds 13.3 cubic feet of luggage. The IS-F is a genuine hot-rod for the high-end auto enthusiast, which could be me; I would certainly love to have one.
After checking in, Ruth and I headed up Indian School Road to find some lunch. I found myself hoping for successive red lights along the way so that I could run through the gears on the Lexus. Lots of motorists were admiring the car with it’s 19″ gray/black alloy wheels, big air vents jutting out from the fenders, and upper and lower mesh grills. The big vents are ostensibly for the purpose of letting hot air get away from the big V-8. On the trunk is a carbon fiber spoiler and in the charcoal paint the car is a particularly attractive mode of transportation. At the end of the day it was a pleasure to rumble into the hotel parking lot, and I couldn’t wait to drive the Lexus to Phoenix International Raceway the next morning for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500.