2013 Lexus IS F Review


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2013 Lexus IS F Overview

The F stands for Funk. Okay, that’s just a theory. But when Lexus knew they had to compete with the M3 by taking their luxurious but lackadaisical IS series and pumping some performance into it, that’s exactly what they did. They rubbed some funk on it.

Trouble was, it turned out to be a little too funky. The IS F has seen criticism throughout its model life for being too hard—too stiff for appropriate use. Finally Lexus has addressed these concerns, and what’s left may just be the funkiest IS F of all.

What’d they do?

For 2013, the suspension saw some dramatic changes, despite Lexus’ seeming intent to be very vague on the subject. Research reveals more details, and some of them are surprising. IS F chief engineer Yukihiko Yaguchi reports that front coil spring rates have been reduced by 2.5% over last year, while rear coil spring rates were actually increased by 13%. We are assured this is a combination that will provide some extra comfort without sacrificing any agility. Additionally, the rear control arms and bushings are new as well as the shock absorbers, although exact details have been kept secret as of this writing, other than that the shocks were supplied by Sachs as in previous years. We do know they’ve had damping increased for “mid-to-high-speed motions” and the rear shocks no longer have rebound springs.

That’s not all for 2013, however. Clearcoat has increased scratch resistance this year, and the optional navigation system now features the latest version of the Lexus Enform communication system and App Suite smartphone-application integration.

Otherwise your IS F is just how you left it with the scary 5.0-liter V8 that seems to spin higher than a satellite. Its 416 hp at 6,600 rpm backed by 371 lb-ft/torque at 5,200 rpm will bring you to an ungoverned top speed of 185 mph. Here in the States top speed is restricted to 168, but you’ll still get to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds thanks to an 8-speed “Direct Sport-Shift” transmission. A torque converter with constant lock-up for second through eighth gears delivers lightning shifts that are smoother than you’d manage on your own. Paddle shifters are included, but automatic “blipping” reminds you’re not in total control.

Of course there are other differences between the IS F and the lesser IS models. Here you’ll get dark-finish 18-inch alloys, front and rear spoilers, and F Sport seats with Alcantara inserts and leather bolsters. The steering wheel is trimmed with silver, whereas the rest of the interior trim gets a dark finish. The IS F's 14.2-inch disc brakes are bitten by 6-piston Brembos to bring everything to a halt with authority, and 8 standard airbags include knee and full-length curtain bags. But this is all in addition to the host of standard features the IS series offers. A cinema of lights includes fog, xenon headlights and LED running lights. You’ll get heated seats and dual-zone automatic climate control, a 6-CD changer attached to a 13-speaker stereo with satellite radio, and keyless ignition and entry will keep you from having to fumble with frustrating keys.

Everyone knew the IS F had a big wall in front of it, emblazoned with a giant M3. Attempts to reach the summit so far have failed, but every year Lexus gains ground. If it keeps rubbing on the funk like this, the company just may make it before too long.


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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