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21 September 2017


Lexus IS F road test report


As reported elsewhere on this site, the IS competes with the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Merc C Class, while this top-of-the-range IS-F competes with musclecars like the RS4, M3 and C63 AMG. But is the ‘F’ hard enough to lock horns with those beasties? You bet it is.

Road Test Reports Says4 star rating
A front-facing image of the Lexus IS

Image number 2 of the Lexus ISImage number 3 of the Lexus ISImage number 4 of the Lexus IS

Performance Performance - 5 stars

With a smooth, 5-litre, 32-valve V8 knocking out some 417bhp and 372lb/ft of torque, and an excellent 8-speed paddle-shift auto transmission, the IS-F can charge to 62mph in just 4.8 secs and hit 168mph, or in my case a little more, at least according to the speedo. Early one morning on an empty, unrestricted autobahn near Berlin I nailed the throttle. The engine and exhausts growled aggressively and the needle climbed remorselessly: 200, 220, 240… In much less time and distance than expected I nudged the electronic speed limiter at an indicated 280km/h (174mph). Fortunately, huge Brembo brakes hauled it back down to a sane speed in no time.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 5 stars

It’s essential that any car this fast should handle superbly, and the rear-wheel drive IS-F most certainly does. With a lower ride height, low-profile tyres (on BBS wheels), beefed-up suspension and a host of fancy electronics (including a limited-slip diff), the IS-F’s ride is always taut but not uncomfortable. But the faster you go, the better everything gets, steering included. I drove one from Brussels to Berlin via several fast laps of the old, 12.9 mile Nürburgring race circuit – the ultimate test of handling – so can say with more than the usual authority that the IS-F is an exceptionally well sorted car.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 5 stars

There’s no escaping the fact that the IS-F has a lot of engine, electronics and all manner of other technology that could go wrong, but the few days I spent driving across Europe in one invoked nothing but confidence in its build and reliability. Moreover, considering the various ownership surveys conducted in recent years, Lexus has earned a reputation for build, reliability and customer service that’s second to none.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 5 stars

Its 5-star EuroNCAP occupant rating doesn’t quite convey the full picture, so here’s a list (all standard equipment): driver and front passenger two-stage airbags, side airbags and knee airbags, front and rear curtain shield airbags. Passenger airbag cut-off switch. ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist. Vehicle stability control, traction control, Sport Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management, adaptive cruise control with pre-crash safety system. Tyre pressure warning system, whiplash injury lessening front seats, front seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters, outer rear seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters, seat-integrated front seatbelt anchorage and support, seatbelt warning system, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear view and door mirrors, adaptive front-lighting system and Isofix child seat mounts (x2, rear). Smart entry and keyless start system, anti-theft system with intruder sensor, alarm, immobiliser and speed-sensitive auto door locking. Will that do?

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

For a fully-fledged sports car the IS-F is very spacious and practical, but if you’re looking at it more as a high performance family saloon then it’s not quite so impressive. The 378-litre boot isn’t huge, and it’s only a 4-seater as the space for what would ordinarily be the centre rear seat is taken up by a fancy rear armrest. I wouldn’t quite describe the rear passenger area as cramped, but it’s not exactly spacious either, and rear seat passengers could feel a bit hemmed in after a while.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 4 stars

Unlike its German counterparts which generally have options lists as long as autobahns, the only option on the IS-F’s list is an £800 tilt/slide sunshine roof. This means that satnav, a 14-speaker Mark Levinson 5.1 surround sound system with 6-DVD autochanger, a parking assist monitor and much more besides are all inclusive. So, unless you want that sunshine roof, the retail price (£51,155 at the time of writing) is the most you’ll pay. Cars of this calibre are never cheap to run – the IS-F’s combined mpg figure is 24.8, and at high speed you can almost see the fuel gauge dropping (a situation not helped by a marginally-sized 64-litre tank), but the IS-F is civilised, beautifully made, brutally quick and terrific to drive.

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