2014 Lexus IS F Review

IS F

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2014 Lexus IS F Overview

Eight is the magic number: 8-speed transmission, 8-cylinder engine, 8 years in production and of course, 88 mph for flux capacitor engagement….

That last one might have little to do with Lexus, but given the fickle nature of the space-time continuum, I’ll hold off on any wild prognostication. What we do know is that the IS F is an attempt to quiet complaints about the overly comfortable nature of the regular-old IS. The ante has been upped, as they say, and the IS F wants to prove that Lexus really can run with the German big boys of the sport-sedan crowd.

Lexus has been cleaning house a bit of late and making sure its offerings are just as tempting as ever. That's good for the rest of the lineup, but bad for the IS F, which rolls into 2014 with only some small changes. This means the IS F has been tooling around our roadways for more than half a decade without an update—a situation that can spell quick death for even the speediest of sedans.

Look quickly, and you can easily mistake the IS F for its lesser brethren. Sitting on a lowered sport suspension with 19-inch wheels filling up its wells, it’s a subtle change from the banality of the IS series. For those who didn’t know, further differences are encompassed by wider fenders, a taller hood, larger rocker panels and vents for the brakes and in the front fenders. But this year the IS F adds a carbon-fiber spoiler, LED foglights and some new leather options and trim inside. Specifically, you’ll get some new F logos on your headrests to match those on the steering wheel and rear-center console. Alcantara now graces door panels, seats and the console as well.

Of course the big difference is the 5.0-liter V8 that sits under the bulging hood. 416 horses wait for you at 6,600 rpm, and feel free to slap hands with the 371 lb-ft of torque you’ll meet at 5,200 along the way. It’s the same engine the IS F has been hauling around since its debut, and it still comes with efficiency numbers to match that date's: 16 mpg city, 23 highway.

But you went after the IS F because it can get to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds, not because of how much gas it’ll take to get there. Things come to a stop with authority due to drilled and vented Brembos—6-piston calipers bite down on 14.2-inch platters up front and a 2-piston setup does duty on the rear 13.6-inchers.

For the luxury end of things, the IS F comes standard with keyless entry and push-button start, dual-zone automatic climate controls, a power moonroof, SirusXM radio with a 90-day subscription and 10-way power seats with a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, all governed by a memory system that handles the power mirrors as well.

So what do you think? Is the IS F going away, or is Lexus merely waiting a year before rolling out the new design? With the M3 getting a makeover this year, it can’t speak well for sales. But perhaps Lexus is just hanging back again, waiting to see what the Germans will do before dipping its own toes into this new pool.

Updated

A CarGurus contributor since 2008, Michael started his career writing about cars with the SCCA - winning awards during his time as editor of Top End magazine. Since then, his journalistic travels have taken him from NY to Boston to CA, completing a cross-country tour on a restored vintage Suzuki. While his preference is for fine German automobiles - and the extra leg room they so often afford - his first automobile memories center around impromptu Mustang vs. Corvette races down the local highway, in the backseat of his father's latest acquisition.

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