Lexus IS F Review: Jekyll & Hyde

Lexus IS F Review: Jekyll & Hyde

OneShift Editorial Team
OneShift Editorial Team
10 Jan 2011
What we like:
pros
Superbly refined and docile at low speeds
pros
turns into a V8 monster at higher speeds and above 3600rpm
pros
renowned Lexus dependability and build quality
pros
restrained aggression in the way it looks
What we dislike:
cons
Gearbox can be quicker with its shifts
cons
steering can be more communicative
cons
use of some Toyota switchgear inside

The IS F's purposefulness continues in the cabin. The interior is adorned with go faster bits like a thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel, aluminium foot pedals, a bespoke instrument pack with a 300km/h speedo and a LCD screen that displays readings for oil temperature, voltage and gear position in the middle as well as blue needles for the two main dials. The wood trim around the gear lever area isn't my cup of tea - it looks like it came off somebody's kitchen floor to say the least. Carbon fibre or matte aluminium trim will suit the IS F's sporty character better than wood.

The electrically adjustable sports seats might not only look that fearsome but they offer superb lateral support in the bends. The chairs are also comfortable enough not to give you a sore back after a long cruise. The red inserts on the seats and the steering wheel on the test car are not to our tastes though - they just look too tacky.

At the rear, the IS F seats only two passengers instead of three like in regular IS models so there's a slight loss of practicality in here. A centre console housing a cubby hole takes the place of the middle seat on the rear bench in the IS F.
Needless to say, there are countless number of F logos inside the cabin. We found up to ten F logos in the cabin, including the ones on the sides of the rear seat bench and front seats as well as on the abovementioned rear centre console among other places.

Well, everything else in the cabin is rather like in a top spec IS250, which means just about average amounts of space at the rear and top notch build quality and some unavoidable use of Toyota switchgear. The pre-facelift car here doesn't come with the 2011 MY IS250's touch screen infotainment system on the centre console but Lexus says that customer spec 2011 MY IS F models will come with this feature.

In addition, the IS F comes standard with VDIM, VSC electronic stability control, keyless operation, cruise control, electrical adjustments for the front seats, electrically adjustable steering column, dual zone climate control and so on.

Despite Lexus' best efforts, the BMW M3 is still the most rewarding and dynamic driver's car among the V8 compact saloons and coupes while the C63 is all about brute force with a touch of finesse in its dynamics and the Audi RS 5 looks better than the Japanese car. But where the IS F truly shines is in its ability to be two cars in one.

At low speeds or when you're just wafting along, the IS F sounds and behaves as docile and refined as any Lexus executive model. Pick up speed and rev beyond 3600rpm and the IS F transforms into a monster of a performance saloon, making all the right noises and bringing out the devil in it like a V8 performance model should. It is the IS F's Jekyll & Hyde split personality character that gives it the ability to stand out from its fearsome competitors.

Credits: Story and Photos by Raymond Lai

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