Advance auto zone blog about fast cars and auto trader

Advance auto zone blog about cool fast cars, and auto trader

2008 Lexus IS F Review

The letter F is an auspicious one in Lexus lore. Back in the mid-'80s, when the Lexus brand was still in the planning stages, Toyota insiders referred to the prospective luxury division as "Circle F." And the car that put Lexus on the map, the LS 400, was known internally as Flagship One, or F1. For 2008, the letter F is back: The company has decided to crash the über-sport sedan party with the 2008 Lexus IS-F, a hard-edged performance car based on the IS-series sedan and aimed squarely at perennial magazine-cover fodder like the Audi RS4, BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

2008 Lexus IS F-12008 Lexus IS F-2The IS-F marks the official launch of Lexus' F line, and it's akin to the aforementioned competitors' in-house performance divisions. As such, Lexus has gone to great lengths to differentiate the IS-F from its more sedate IS-series brethren. Take the IS-F's exclusive power plant, for example, which begins life as the gas-swilling half of the LS 600h L's hybrid engine and then gets a thorough makeover from Toyota's longtime performance partner, Yamaha. The end result is a 5.0-liter V8 that churns out 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque, compared with 306 and 277, respectively, from the IS 350's already potent 3.5-liter V6. Likewise, the IS-F eschews the IS 350's six-speed automatic transmission for a heavily modified version of the LS 460's eight-speed unit that boasts Ferrari-quick upshifts and automatic throttle blips on downshifts. The singularity and complexity of this powertrain serve notice to the old guard that this Lexus means business. Like its F1-cum-LS 400 forebear, the 2008 Lexus IS-F is designed to go toe to toe with the best.

Outside the engine room, however, the IS-F has a few kinks to work out. For one thing, while its extensively revised suspension is dynamite on the track, the IS-F falls well short of the ride-handling balance for which certain rivals are justly famous. For another, its exterior styling cues range from the controversial (e.g., the reshaped hood and snout required to accommodate the 5.0-liter mill) to the downright tacky (e.g., the quad-stacked tailpipes that aren't actually connected to the exhaust system). Its German competition, on the other hand -- as well as the upcoming Cadillac CTS-V -- feature relatively compliant rides and subtle aesthetics.

There's no doubt that the IS-F is a serious driver's car, but we can't help but wonder whether its hardcore personality is a little over the top for this segment, notwithstanding its commendably hushed interior and rather incongruous lack of a manual transmission option. Enthusiasts with 60 large to plunk down on a sport sedan may find the IS-F a smidge too fast and furious for their tastes.

Nonetheless, the 2008 Lexus IS-F is a thrilling car on its own merits, and its uncompromising nature indicates that Lexus is willing to do what it takes to ensure that its sporting F models will be competitive with class leaders. The company has already hit two home runs with the letter F, and while it hasn't quite knocked the IS-F out of the park, it's still a promising first step toward challenging the established heavyweights for the factory performance crown.

© Source: edmunds
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