Design and Engineering

Design and Engineering

Good Arriving in Australia in November 2005, with short overhangs, blistered wheel arches and a pert rear-end, this second generation IS could well be the best looking Lexus ever (discounting the LFA supercar of course). Lexus claims this model is 20% stiffer than the original, which in no way drove like a wet paper towel! The suspension has been refined with double wishbones up front and multi-link in the rear.

The IS-F arrived in 2008 and by mid-2009, Lexus made a few tweaks by adding a Torsen LSD to the IS F’s driveline. Another update soon followed in 2010, a revised spring and damper rates, along with new suspension bushings made the IS-F even more taught.

The range received a mid-life facelift in November 2010, which was rather late for a model which generally only has a six year life cycle between generations, with a slight styling update to the exterior as well as LED daytime running lights and new alloy wheel designs. The IS350 grade also arrived locally at this time.
Not so good Unfortunately it weighs more than the 1st generation IS and is significantly longer and wider. Whether this is a flaw or an improvement is up to you.

The rear-wheel drive layout and a focus on exterior styling means space inside has been compromised.
Interior and Styling

Interior and Styling

Good The comfy leather seats offer decent support, the sporty three-spoke steering wheel feels just right and the interior plastics are 1st class; all-in-all a wonderful environment to spend hours behind the wheel.

The IS-F receives body hugging sports seats that are wrapped in leather and are also heated. The IS-F also gets a premium steering wheel with mounted paddle shifters, audio control and a ‘sports’ button.
Not so good The Instrument lighting might be a little tacky for some, (upon start-up the speedo & tacho are illuminated in a flash of bright white light), however kids love it and it may appeal to the child in you. It is Unfortunate that the driver's seat can't go lower, and the cool 'rising waistline' styling means the view out the rear side windows is lacking for children and there is limited rear seat legroom for large adults. The boot is also a bit small.
Performance

Performance

Good The petrol V6’s (2.5-litre & 3.5-litre) sound great with a restrained muscular note on start-up and are as silky as they come. The 6-speed auto transmission is also one smooth unit. The IS250 features a 2.5-litre V6 which produces 153kW and 252Nm whilst the IS350 with its 3.5-litre generates a very, healthy 233kW and 378Nm. The barnstorming IS-F’s 5.0-litre V8 is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission producing 311kW and 505Nm. All three engines are naturally aspirated.

The engine note of the IS-F is truly addictive; push the revs over 4000rpm and the exhaust opens up to give this thunderous throaty roar. It guarantees to bring a smile to your face every time.

The Lexus IS-F also features an 8-speed automatic that has a Sports Direct Shift (SPDS) function, putting the transmission in ‘M’ mode allows you to change gears manually via the steering wheel mounted paddles.
Not so good Auto transmission is a far better choice than the 6-speed manual (available only on the IS250) which is lacking in feel and can be difficult to drive smoothly. The IS250 lacks raw speed - 153kW doesn’t exactly overpower this Lexus.

The IS-F features a fantastic engine, but it is very thirsty even under normal driving conditions.
Ride and Handling

Ride and Handling

Good The electrically-assisted steering is better than most, it’s well weighted and responsive to the driver’s inputs. Ride quality is satisfactory considering the low profile rubber as standard on the F Sport and Sports Luxury variants and the rear-wheel drive chassis is well balanced – encouraging spirited driving when the road twists and turns. The F-Sport grades gain firmer suspension and a quicker steering rack ensuring a drive along your favourite twisty back-road is that little bit more fun. The steering is accurate with good weighting.
Not so good Electronic Stability Control (ESC) cannot be turned off completely which means there is a limit to the amount of fun that can be had.

The Sports grades ride and suspension are a little firm over longer trips.
Buying and Owning

Buying and Owning

Good The Lexus IS offers excellent value for money – standard luxuries on the IS250 and IS350 are often only options on the big European competitors and would end up costing you thousands more and build quality should translate to stress-free ownership. With the power on offer, the IS350 grades equate to excellent value when compared against its rivals.
Not so good Sports sedans aren’t the most practical vehicles on sale today, especially with no fuel saving Turbo Diesel on offer (Lexus are most likely holding out for a future petrol/hybrid variant).

The IS-F only has limited space for rear seat occupants and taller passengers may feel a little cramped.