Lexus has finally revealed the secret V8 car it has been working on. It’s not called the IS F this time around, though. All new for 2022, it’s now called the IS 500 F Sport.
I have a problem with that name that I’ll get to in a bit. But if the specs are to be believed, it’ll be a performer for sure.
Coming this fall, the IS500 doesn’t use turbos or superchargers like other automakers. It’s all natural at Lexus. Its naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 puts out 472 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque. Keep in mind that this is the same V8 that sees duty in the RC F and LC coupe.
That power gets routed to the rear wheels through the same eight-speed automatic found in the basic IS models. Don’t worry, though, it’s been tuned for performance. Lexus is claiming a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. It’ll get 24 mpg on the highway.
Changes underneath go a bit further, sharing with the IS350 F Sport components like a limited-slip differential and adaptive dampers. These are combined with a standard dynamic handling package that should make this thing fun on twisty roads. It’s weird but you’d think Lexus would’ve put more effort into engineering model-specific performance goodies for the IS500 instead of having them shared with a more basic model. The only performance enhancing pieces that seem to be exclusive to the IS500 are its bigger brakes (14 inches front, 12.7 inches rear) and 19-inch Enkei wheels. Lexus says these wheels are lighter than those on the 350 F Sport.
It’ll be easy to tell the difference between an IS500 and IS350 on the outside. Its bulged hood, Enkei wheels, rear spoiler and diffuser are specific to the model. And in a nod to the past, Lexus has brought back the IS F’s quad exhaust. It remains to be seen, though, if they are actually connected to anything.
Inside, the differences are subtle. The IS500 gets a digital instrument cluster, bolstered sport seats, aluminum pedals and a steering wheel with a small F Sport badge on it. No special trim, or contrasting stitching or anything else special. Just by looking at the interior, you can’t really tell that this is a performance model. There’s no word on pricing yet
While a welcome addition, especially with it having a V8, I have a problem with both the name and the F brand. This model kind of solidifies that F as a standalone performance brand really isn’t a thing with Lexus. F came about as a performance answer to M, AMG, etc. Except nothing ever worth mentioning ever came of it.
The IS F made headlines and then vanished, the RC F is a dated performer (wasn’t much of a performer when it debuted) and the GS F has been largely forgotten. The brand has since been an all-show no-go trim for every model in the Lexus line.
This new name on the IS implies that there is a standard IS500 and that this model is an F Sport version of that model. If F isn’t going to be a thing, Lexus needs to come out and say it. Otherwise, this IS500 should be interesting, especially with it perhaps being one of the last new V8 models before we head into our EV future.