You may be wondering why Lexus decided to call the range-topping version of its latest IS sedan an IS 500 F Sport Performance instead of simply an IS F, especially considering that it packs a more powerful version of the same V-8 engine that featured in the last IS F.
At the car's launch earlier this year, Lexus said the decision had to do with plans to elevate the F badge to a higher level, particularly when it comes to track capability. Yes, even though the lineup of dedicated F models has been downsized to just the RC F following the recent demise of the GS F, Lexus has no plans to abandon the F.
At the SEMA show on this week, Lexus provided more details on its plans for the F badge and the future of the F performance sub-brand.
The automaker said it plans to expand the F sub-brand to cover four distinct tiers of performance, similar to what you might find at BMW M. The four tiers Lexus plans are as follows:
F Sport Design: This entry-level tier includes styling upgrades for the exterior and cabin, such as unique front and rear fascias, and bolder wheel patterns.
F Sport Handling: This level adds sport-tuned suspension on models that may not normally be considered performance models, such as the NX crossover and LX SUV.
F Sport Performance: This level adds more hardcore suspension upgrades than what you might find with F Sport Handling, as well as visual tweaks inside and out. In some models it may also include powertrain upgrades, as was the case for the IS 500 F Sport Performance.
F: This level is the most extreme when it comes to performance, and as a result vehicles will benefit from upgrades designed to improve performance both on the road and track. Key upgrades will include track-tuned suspension, uprated brakes, aerodynamic packages, lightweight materials, and powertrain upgrades. In other words, expect something more like the limited-edition 2020 RC F Track Edition.
Lexus said more details on its new performance strategy will be announced soon.