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TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the new Lexus IS-F on the street and on the track, in order to give you an expert opinion regarding its performance and practicality. TheCarConnection.com's car experts have also researched available road tests on the new Lexus IS-F to produce this conclusive review and to help you find the truth where other car reviews might differ.
Introduced in 2008, the Lexus IS-F is a high-performance version of the IS sport sedan. It was the first production model to wear the brand's "F" designation, heralding more exclusive vehicles offering track-ready performance.
The attractive IS-F features a more aggressive grille with lower vents to enhance engine breathing and matching vents for brake cooling, while flared wheel arches house the oversized tires needed to pump all that extra power to the pavement. Some of the add-ons to the 2009 Lexus IS-F sedan’s exterior appear unrefined, but the interior is flawless; a console covered in aluminum-look trim splits four bucket seats. Backseats, however, don’t provide enough head- or legroom.
For 2009 the IS-F receives an updated instrument-panel center cluster and a black/terra-cotta two-tone interior trim. Additional interior enhancements include a new piano-black finish for the center cluster and illuminated outside mirror controls.
The Lexus IS-F is the closest Lexus has come to matching the best of the high-performance variants from Germany. The IS-F lacks a manual-transmission option and all-wheel drive, but in every other regard it’s equal to the BMW M3, the Mercedes-Benz C63, or the Audi RS4. The engine bay of the IS-F features a 5.0-liter V-8 producing 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque. Power is transmitted to the wheels via an eight-speed direct-shift auto/manual transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Capable of hitting 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and topping out at an electronically regulated 168 mph, the 2009 IS-F is Lexus’ fastest car to date.
The IS-F’s independent suspension feels tighter than the stock IS suspension, though the IS-F’s electric power steering leaves some feeling behind on the drawing table, even on its stiffer Sport setting. Big 19-inch wheels are standard, as are Brembo brakes.
Standard safety equipment for the 2009 Lexus IS-F includes anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability control, electronic brake force distribution, and more, all integrated into a specially calibrated VDIM (Vehicle Dynamics Interface Module).