by Aaron Borrill
The BMW M3 has gone unchallenged for too long. Brief skirmishes with solid performers such as the Audi RS4 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG posed little threat because of the Beemer’s aggressive engine, handling and chassis. Nothing seemed able to knock it from its perch – until, that is, Lexus unveiled its latest incarnation, the mighty Lexus IS-F. It is Asia’s answer to the European-ruled Sports Saloon category. Given the F marque (F is Lexus’s performance division), the IS-F is anything but an all-grunt-no-shunt car.
It’s a bespoke vehicle tailored to deliver a ferocious experience, both on-track and on-road. Resting in the engine bay is its most prized asset: a finely engineered 5-litre V8 mill. It smoothly supplies the rear wheels – via an efficient eight-speed transmission – with a muscly dose of 311kW and 505Nm. On paper, at a top speed of 270km/h, it’s faster than the M3 and RS4 and just as quick as the C63 AMG. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it finishes ahead of its rivals on the track.
The Lexus releases an incredible power surge on corners, but the car’s 19-inch BBS alloy wheels, together with its point-and-shoot steering, provide satisfactory handling. For some reason it feels too soft, especially when enthusiastically tucking it into a corner.
The Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system allows a driver to push the car to its limits before the braking, throttle and steering-control systems take over. It’s equipped with six-pot Brembo brake set-up that swiftly stops the car when slamming on the anchors which you’ll need to do quite regularly given the IS-Fs blistering acceleration.
Oriental styling cues are evident throughout the IS-F’s composition, categorised by the outlandish quad exhaust-tip configuration, an understated wide-body kit and large air intakes.
The Lexus should only be ordered in the trademark electric blue: it accentuates the contours and provides it with a stand-out appearance.
The IS-F is going to upset many BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz owners. It may even lure some of them towards the Lexus brand.
Price: R776 900
Engine: 5.0-litre V8
Power: 311kW and 505Nm
0-100km/h: 4.6 seconds
Top speed: 270km/h