Lexus positions its cars along two tracks--one plush and detached, the other more visceral and sporty--and the 2012 IS sedans fit into the latter.
If you want to make the most of that performance feel, just don't go with the base 204-horsepower, 2.5-liter V-6; it's smooth but remarkably short on power, especially with the automatic transmission. IS 350 models come with a much more enjoyable 306-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 but unfortunately only come with the (paddle-shifted) six-speed automatic.
The IS 350 models' powertrain is agreeable and responsive, and overall the IS feels quite agile but never quite on the same high dynamic ground as the BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G37. Rear-wheel drive IS models have a better steering feel than AWD versions, although across the model line it's one of the least communicative steering setups.
An F-Sport Package adds a host of appearance upgrades, including sport suspension, special steering tuning, and larger 18-inch wheels, to rear-wheel drive models with the automatic transmission.