The IS F is the performance flagship of the Lexus IS range, but like a BMW M car or a Mercedes-Benz AMG the IS F is far-removed from the regular IS and is worthy of being called a standalone product. That’s because virtually everything beneath its pretty sheet metal is unique, with the big-ticket item being its 5.0-liter V-8.
This sledgehammer of a powerplant dishes out 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to rocket the five-seat sedan from 0-60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and see it reach a top speed of 168 mph.
Gear changes are handled by a smooth eight-speed automatic, which does a remarkably good job of getting all that power to the rear wheels. There isn’t the delay in shifts that some other high-performance autos suffer from.
The whole IS range was updated last year so there haven’t been too many changes made on this latest 2012 model. The only two items worth mentioning are a red leather interior package that replaces the previous orange-on-black theme as well as a set of 19-inch wheels. All four corners get either Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 or Bridgestone Potenza tires, in 225/40 front and 265/35 rear sizes.
The IS F isn’t quite in the same league as some of its German rivals, though the car does present a reasonable case for a performance/luxury sedan buyer with a spare $61,300 to spend. Those German rivals include the BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C63, both of which come in either sedan or coupe bodystyles.
The IS F’s handling is good, though there’s no hiding its heft when cornering hard. The chassis and setup itself also seem more biased toward understeer, which is usual for a rear-wheel drive sports sedan. At slower speed, however, it's a relatively comfortable.
Inside, there’s not much to distinguish it from the lesser IS range, though the new red leather option does help a little. There’s also a pair of very supportive bucket seats and special badging to help remind you that you’re not in an ordinary IS.
The IS F’s safety isn't rated by the IIHS nor NHTSA though its base sedan, the IS 250/350, is and scores top ranks of "good" according to the IIHS and nets a four-star rollover rating from the NHTSA. Standard safety equipment includes stability and traction control, pre-tensioning seat belts, dual-stage front airbags, plus side airbags, and front and rear side curtain airbags.
For a closer look at the 2012 Lexus IS F, and all it has to offer, head over to our sister site The Car Connection for the full review.