When the Lexus IS F debuted, the sport sedan was a huge departure from the cosseting luxury cars the brand was known for. Now, five years on, the IS F is still fun as ever and has served as a harbinger of the performance-minded vehicles to come from Toyota and Lexus.
Even though it preceded the likes of the V-10-powered Lexus LFA supercar and lithe Scion FR-S sports coupe, don't think that the Lexus IS F is any slouch. Powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 tuned to 416 hp and 371 lb-ft of torque, the IS F is available only in rear-wheel drive and using a lightning-fast eight-speed automatic – the first eight-speed to come to market. Despite being down on power compared to its rival from Mercedes-Benz – the C63 AMG makes 457 hp – and only just besting the BMW M3's 414 hp, the Lexus is a hoot to drive.
Motor Trend's Carlos Lago found out just how fun the Lexus was when he spent a day on California's backroads and at the track with the IS F. Speaking to the car's history, he points out that it was "the first fun Lexus" and "an absolute blast to drive." Unlike any other Lexus, the IS F communicates the road clearly through precise steering, throttle control is very nice, and the chassis is buttoned-down and unflappable. According to Lago, the IS F is "really rewarding" and can produce well-controlled oversteer for some sideways fun without breaking the limits of the car.
Lago's hope – and our hope – is that the IS F (and LFA and FR-S) are just the start of things to come from Toyota and Lexus. Check out the video below, and join us in looking forward to more fun-to-drive cars from Lexus.