Fun-to-drive Lexus IS F is performance oriented

Posted Friday, May. 16, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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The 2014 IS F sedan was “born on the track ... unleashed on the street,” Lexus says, with performance-oriented design elements housing a powerful 5.0 liter V-8 engine producing 416 horsepower and going from zero-60 mph in 4.6 seconds.

Base price of the IS F is $63,600 (plus $910 freight).

Exterior upgrades different from the regular IS sedans include F Sport badging on the front fenders and right rear trunk; a larger “V” shaped wire mesh grille over a trapezoid-shaped front bumper with wire mesh lower intakes; a raised hood to accommodate the V-8 engine; flared front fenders to make room for the 19-inch forged-alloy wheels; LED fog lamps; larger rocker panels; and a carbon-fiber rear spoiler.

The interior offers special surface treatments such as an exclusive dark aluminized composite trim, special steering wheel trim, Alcantara leather on the doors and center console, aluminum-trimmed gauges, the Lexus “F” logo on the headrests, front seat sides, and carpeted front floor mats, and semi-aniline leather seats replacing the black Alcantara and leather trimmed seats from 2013.

Power-adjustable front sport bucket seats feature high-contrast black stitching on Alpine leather, or blue stitching on black leather.

My snazzy Ultra White IS F seated four in sculpted, bolstered sport buckets, front and rear, in black with blue stitching.

Front seats were heated, with memory positions for both the driver and the passenger. The driver’s seat memory also controlled the auto-dimming outside mirrors (with defogger and puddle lamps) and the “F” spec leather-wrapped tilt/telescopic steering wheel (with audio and cruise controls).

IS F comes in six exterior colors, with three interior color combinations.

All passengers had adequate leg and head room – 43.9/37.2 inches in the front and 30.6/36.7 inches in the rear. Rear passengers had a pull-down armrest with cupholders and a shallow tray located between the edges of the bucket-style seats.

The trunk offered 13.3 cubic feet of cargo space, with a small pass-thru behind the pull-down armrest. With minimal amenities in the rear and stationary seat backs, the IS-F is probably not the ideal family vehicle, unless everyone is more interested in power and performance.

With all of its power and driving excitement, the IS F is EPA rated for 16 mpg in the city and 23 on the highway. Actual mileage depends on driving style, of course.

My IS F came with lots of standard sporty equipment, such as Brembo ventilated disc brakes with drilled rotors and high-friction pads; lower sidewalls on the rear tires; and an eight-speed sport direct-shift automatic transmission with steering-wheel mounted “F” spec paddle shifters.

It also came with “F” spec double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspensions; and a Torsen limited-slip differential.

Electroluminescent “F” spec Optitron gauges with shift indicator, oil temperature, and voltmeter gauges had a cool “light-saber” glow. The chrome quad exhaust tips added a finishing touch to the rear of the car as it roared away from stop lights.

Standard safety features included advanced front air bags (twin-chamber for the front passenger), front knee air bags, front seat-mounted side impact air bags, and side-curtain air bags for both rows. The supplemental restraint system also included three-point belts with force-limiting pretensioners for all four seating positions.

Smart stop technology (SST) reduces engine power if the brake and accelerator are pressed at the same time, depending on road conditions, driver input and speed, to help bring the vehicle to a safe stop. As always, I am satisfied with not checking out the safety features.

The LED daytime running lights arranged along the bottom of the bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlight housing, taillights, and fog lights also assist with safety, with a bright, concentrated glow. LED taillights last longer and respond faster, possibly giving drivers behind more time to react to avoid a collision.

In case of the unavoidable, this Lexus comes with Safety Connect with automatic collision notification to alert and dispatch emergency response teams. There is also an Emergency Assist Button (SOS) and Enhanced Roadside Assistance for non-collision emergencies. Safety Connect also includes Stolen Vehicle Location. The car also has a first aid kit and tool kit.

The SmartAccess key allows the driver to keep the key in a pocket or purse and unlock the doors with a touch on the handle, and start the car with a push button.

IS F has a power tilt-and-slide moon roof with one-touch open and close, automatic dual-zone climate control with pollen filter (making the car the best place to be during peak pollen allergy season), an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a top-shaded/tinted front windshield, and UV and infrared reducing glass in all windows.

My IS F came with Lexus’ premium audio system with 13 speakers, automatic sound levelizer, Bluetooth technology, USB audio plug, satellite radio (90 day trial subscription to SiriusXM).

A Navigation System option ($2,490) brought Pandora and iHeartRadio; and Lexus Enform with Destination Assist, eDestination and App Suite. App Suite includes Bing, Yelp, Open Table, Facebook Places and

The navigation option also brought SiriusXM NavWeather, NavTraffic, Sports, Stocks and Fuel Prices with a complimentary one-year subscription. There was also a backup camera.

Navigation was easy to program manually, and the directions were easy to follow. The system also has “voice command casual-language recognition” for hands-free programming. But I did find that it doesn’t speak “Appalachian.” (I do.)

The tester included Intuitive Park Assist with front and rear sensors, a $500 option.

My IS F was comfortable, although the rear seat seemed to be left out when it came to amenities. It was fun to drive and powerful, with a noticeable growl on acceleration. I didn’t attempt the zero-60 in under five seconds, but I did enjoy the feel of quickly accelerating on a limited-access country road.

Including freight and $2,990 in options, my IS F tester had a sticker price of $67,250.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams appear weekly in the Star-Telegram. Contact her at  

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