A really well-prepared teriyaki sauce can take ordinary beef and make it extraordinary, which is exactly the case with the Lexus IS-F. The ordinary IS 350 with the 306 horsepower V6 is no doubt a nice car, but Toyota engineers concocted some insane automotive teriyaki sauce for the IS-F. This car is fast. Stupefyingly fast. Blows the doors off both the Challenger and S5 fast. You can’t even blink before the quad cam 5.0 V8 is bouncing off the rev limiter with a cordial chime reminding you to push the little silvery paddle shifter on the steering wheel. And when you do, almost before you even touch it, the eight-speed tranny (yes, eight speed!) shifts to the next gear, catapulting you and all of its 416 horsepower past 60 miles an hour in 4.6 seconds. The ferocious V8 combined with the Ferrari-quick manumatic shifting makes the IS-F the fastest car in this group without debate.
Okay, so it’s fast. But what else? Well, the IS-F has some polarizing design cues. It doesn’t have the refined, sophisticated look of the S5 and can’t benefit from a hot rod heritage like the Challenger, so the IS-F tries to create an unique aura all itself. When was the last time you ever saw dual tipped exhaust stacked on top of each other on both sides? And what about the angular, bulbous DTM-style look on the front fenders and hood? Some people loved these touches, others not so much, but nobody could disagree with the gorgeous Ultrasonic Blue Mica paint matched with the metallic grey wheels.
The interior was equally polarizing. While some might love the white leather interior (this author included), others may shy away from such distinctive interior appointments. The gauge cluster had a very attractive blue and white electroluminescent display and the metallic-looking console and door panels which remind us of a late ’70s Trans-Am really rounded out the sporting feel of the IS-F. And although the IS-F has four doors, there’s only enough seat belts for two in the back.
Lexus has really pulled off an incredible balance of sports car and luxury sedan with the IS-F. Because of its eight speed transmission, highway cruising is serene and subdued. But hit that paddle on the steering wheel 4 times and suddenly the once hushed cabin turns into a cacophony of raw, unadulterated thrust. The IS-F is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personified in the form of a car. And unlike the S5 or the Challenger, the IS-F has four doors and no stereotypical prerequisite you must fit under before purchasing. You don’t have to be a “Bud Man” or a sophisticant to own an IS-F. You simply have to have about $60,000, the desire to own a unique blend of luxury and sportiness, and insatiable addiction to face-contorting acceleration.
So what are we havin’ for dinner? We’ll take the beef teriyaki. Now we just need $60,000.
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