Lexus has given its IS F super saloon a make-over to keep it to fresh in a sector dominated by the Germans.
What is it?
In recent years Lexus has had a slight image problem - thanks to all the hybrid SUVs and a certain Mr A. Partridge. The IS F seems to be an attempt to counter this though, by turning the pleasant but otherwise non-remarkable IS saloon into a snarling, high-performance sports car, built for those who care about driving and speed rather than polar bears and the rainforest.
Suspension geometry, springs and shock absorbers have been tweaked to provide greater stability and steering response as well as improving the damping and ride comfort. The dashboard instruments have been redesigned to place the tachometer and gear shift indicator directly in front of the driver and carbon fibre-style trim details have been added.
What's under the bonnet?
Power comes from a naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 petrol engine which produces 417bhp and 505Nm torque. This gets the IS F from 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 168mph. This performance comes at a cost though as it kicks out 270g/km CO2 and has a combined MPG figure of just 24.4.
What's the kit like?
Being a top-of-the-range model you can expect all the usual gadgetry and trinkets, however despite the slight refresh, the quality falls slightly behind that of German rivals and the touch-screen satellite navigation isn't up to much. Outside, you'll find 19-inch forged alloy wheels, a boot spoiler, flared arches, bigger bumpers, quad-exhaust tips and brand new LED daytime running lights.
The German two-some the BMW M3 saloon Mercedes C63 AMG spring to mind, here. Both define this small super saloon sector. Audi used to have the RS4 saloon but there's no word yet on whether the new model – only in estate form – will ever be offered with a saloon car boot.
Is it any good?
Despite starting to show it's age now, the IS F is still an exciting car to drive, it may not have the ultimate dynamic edge of the M3 but it's not far behind and that thumping V8 provides not just a huge surge of power but an awesome soundtrack too.
The Autoblog verdict
The IS F doesn't shout about it's performance in the same way that an AMG Mercedes does and isn't as 'mainstream' as the BMW M3, giving it the air of exclusivity and anonymity that all good Q cars really need. The interior may be slightly lacking and it won't be too kind to your wallet when it comes to re-fuelling, but the Lexus IS F is a very well-resolved super saloon.