The world woke up to some terrible news: legendary French duo Daft Punk have announced that they are splitting up after 28 years. It’s another blemish on the year that is 2021, but Lexus may have something that that could help lift our spirits.
This is the Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, the first model in the Japanese carmaker’s new F Sport Performance line-up. Based on the third-generation IS that received a major update last year, the sports sedan was developed by Lexus chief engineer Naoki Kobayashi and his team at Lexus International for the North American market.
The work that went into the IS 500 goes far beyond just slapping on a body kit and calling it a day. While the overall shape is similar to a regular IS with the F Sport package, the bonnet on the IS 500 has been raised by nearly two inches and is more heavily sculpted.
There’s more too, as while it may not be immediately obvious, the front bumper and fenders have also been lengthened. Why go through all this trouble? Well, despite the downsizing trend, Lexus fitted the IS 500 with a stonking 5.0 litre naturally-aspirated V8 petrol engine.
The 2UR-GSE unit fills a V8-shaped hole in the IS line-up ever since the IS F was discontinued way back in 2014, and you can also find it in the RC F, GS F as well as the more modern LC 500. Here, it is used one more time in the IS 500, likely as a last hurrah before electrification completely takes over.
In keeping the V8 alive, the 5.0 litre NA unit serves up 472 hp at 7,100 rpm and 535 Nm of torque at 4,800 rpm. Those numbers beat the previous IS F’s 416 hp and 503 Nm, while being substantially more than the 311 hp and 380 Nm that comes from a 3.5 litre NA V6 found in the current IS 350.
With an eight-speed automatic transmission driving the rear wheels, the IS 500 will sprint from zero to 96 km/h (0-60 mph) in just 4.5 seconds, but there’s no mention of top speed, only fuel economy, which is claimed to be 10.2 km/l. Lexus says that with the big V8, the IS 500 is only 65 kg heavier than a standard IS 350 F Sport, tipping the scales at 1,765 kg.
Apart from making room for a V8, Lexus also gave the IS 500 some distinctive cues like a quad exhaust system with dual stacked tailpipes, which is a nod to the RC F, and required a revised lower rear diffuser to be fitted. Elsewhere, there’s a rear lip spoiler, dark window chrome trim, black badging and Enkei 19-inch split-10-spoke alloy wheels that help save 2.7 kg over the regular 19-inch F Sport wheels.
For driving dynamics, the IS 500 gets Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS), a Torsen limited-slip differential and a Yamaha rear performance damper. There’s also a beefier braking system with larger 355-mm front rotors and 322-mm rear discs, while the powertrain can be configured according to several drive modes.
Inside, it’s pretty much identical to a normal IS, save for the F Sport Performance badging on the leather steering wheel and door sill scuff plates, IS F Sport pedals as well as new startup animation for the instrument cluster.
On the safety front, there’s the Lexus Safety System+ 2.5 suite, beginning with Pre-Collision System (PCS), which includes Frontal Collision Warning (FCW), Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian and bicyclist detection and Emergency Steering Assist (ESA). Additional standard systems are Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert with Steering Assist (LDA w/ SA), Lane Tracing Assist (LTA), Intelligent High Beams and Road Sign Assist (RSA).
Pricing for the IS 500 F Sport Performance will be announced at a later time and the model is expected to arrive at dealerships later this fall. Harder, better, faster, stronger are appropriate terms in describing the new Lexus sports sedan, but is it an instant crush for you? Share your digital love (or hatred) for the model in the comments section below.
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