So we got a 2011 Lexus IS-F
This one took a bit of scrounging, but we finally managed to bag a Lexus IS-F for a brief two-day test, thanks to our supporters within the UAE dealer. There is a long list of press people waiting to test this car, so we were almost ready to dismiss it. But after driving it, we’d say this is the first Lexus we’ve ever desired. You know, like, really desired.
First thing’s first, our initial walkaround revealed a very buff little sedan, although it may actually appear docile in black. All those big bulges and vents get a bit lost in dark colours.
A taller bonnet, stacked exhaust tips, side vents, unique wheels and new bumpers are the only giveaways that this is not a regular IS 300. Those, and the infinite number of “F” badges littered around the car. These cues were seemingly enough to grab the attention of some people on the street, especially youngsters in other Lexus models, none faster than the IS-F.
The story elsewhere was that those stacked tips are fake. Looking into them, that isn’t fully the case. The tips aren’t joined with the muffler, but there indeed are four smaller circular exhaust outlets hiding behind the chrome.
The interior is standard Lexus fare, with the only “F” additions being blue badges, blue stitching and a blue patch on the steering wheel. That, and interesting metal trim in a carbon-fibre pattern.
The unique sports seats also deserve a mention, bolstered enough to hold you in corners, yet still very comfortable.
The last time we tested an IS 300 in 2007, we found the rear to be severely cramped. It was a surprise then, that rear legroom here was actually rather decent for average-sized folks. We found out that apparently in 2008, Lexus reshaped the front seatbacks to improve rear space, and it definitely worked. Of course, those approaching six feet tall will still feel cramped, and the ‘F’ only seats two in the back.
Cargo room is okay for a car of this size, but the floor is far from flat, with a big tyre-shaped section bulging out of the floor, due to the full-size spare wheel.
Driving the IS-F casually for the first few minutes, it felt amazingly docile, without the low-speed jumpiness that usually plagues powerful cars. But floor the throttle, and speed picks up disturbingly quick. It is an automatic, but manual shifting proved to be satisfyingly responsive too, and a bit of a shocker when we realised there were eight speeds to shift through. And the brakes, hot damnit, those brakes! They actually made me feel like my eyes were about to pop out, and it hurt. They are that powerful.
More in the full review.