When Akio Toyoda took over the reins of Toyota Motor Company, he was on a mission to infuse his car company with a new spirit that comes from his racing background and love for fast cars. The CEO of Toyota knows that he must change the culture at Lexus in order to survive. He has seen his luxury brand, fall from first to third place in U.S. sales behind BMW and Mercedes. But lately, Toyoda has infused his brand with a passion that hasn’t been seen in Lexus before.
This week we’ll test the 2014 Lexus IS F Sedan that will be a strong contender with the Germans for one of the best sports sedans in the world.
What’s new for 2014?
Lexus IS F is a high-performance luxury sport sedan based on the Japanese automaker’s regular IS models. The 2014 Lexus IS F sedan continues on essentially unchanged even though the regular Lexus IS has been fully redesigned. The 2014 IS F gets minor updates that include new LED foglights, a carbon-fiber rear spoiler and upgraded leather seats.
2014 Lexus IS F ($63,350) gets one trim level
Inside it features keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated 10-way power front sport seats with memory settings, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth, 13-speaker audio system and satellite radio.This IS F tester came with the optional navigation system ($2,490) that includes a 7-inch screen, rearview camera, HD radio and Lexus Enform app suite.
Outside IS F comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, summer performance tires, sport-tuned suspension, Brembo brakes, limited-slip rear differential, bi-xenon headlights, LED foglights, rain-sensing wipers, heated auto-dimming mirrors, a sunroof, and a carbon-fiber rear spoiler.
The IS F is civilized and comfortable inside and comes with the level of luxury you would expect from Lexus. The new upgraded leather seats are extra supportive with F models getting bigger bolsters for even more support during spirited driving. There is enough room up front for most drivers, but the backseat legroom is tight for taller passengers. The cabin is quiet on the highway but you can still hear the throaty growl for under the hood. IS F also comes with aluminum pedals that sets it apart from the stand IS.
IS F on the road
We couldn’t wait to test the IS F on the road and see how the rear-wheel-drive sport sedan powered by the 416 hp 5.0-liter V8 performed. The first time we pushed the keyless ignition switch, we could tell by the sound that this is the real deal. The V8 with direct and port injection came to life and the sound is impressive. The throaty V8 is coupled to an eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic transmission that includes steering wheel paddle shifters.
On the road, IS F has impressive power and all we needed to do was mash the gas pedal down to find out. Even with the traction control on, IS F pushed us back in the seat and put a smile on our faces. This is a true performance car and this IS F offers the kind of performance that Akio Toyoda had dreamed of delivering. We pushed the tester hard up I-70 going into the foothills west of Denver and we had trouble keeping our speed down. The local Colorado State Patrol was watching my every move this week and it wasn’t easy avoiding their radar.
IS F will handle everything you can throw at it
The IS F’s eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic does a fine job, and served up quick upshifts and rev-matched downshifts with the use of the steering wheel paddle shifters. Even in fully automatic mode, the eight-speed gearbox offered competent shifts. The IS F gets a “F” spec sport suspension and it tends to be stiffer than the typical Lexus ride. If you can live with the firmer ride quality, this sports sedan is easy to live with on the road.
Particularly impressive were the IS F’s precise steering, Brembo-sourced beefy ventilated and drilled brakes with high-friction pads and sticky 19-inch tires. It doesn’t matter how fast you can go if you don’t have the ability to stop quickly. The IS F is able to handle everything you would want to throw at it on the street or track.
The level of handling and sporty driving dynamics of the IS F will satisfy the most ardent performance enthusiast all day long. Lexus is getting close to the BMW M3 and the 451 hp Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. But both those models are due for new models in 2015. Akio Toyoda is on the right track, and the 2014 Lexus IS F 4-Door sedan is on its way to becoming a respected global performance sports sedan.
So what’s the final ranking for the 2014 Lexus IS F? We give it a 4.5 out of 5.
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Reviewer: Denis Flierl