Back in November at the Tokyo Motor Show, Lexus unveiled the production-ready RC Coupe. While the RC Coupe certainly looked the business, with a choice of either a 314 hp V6 or a 2.5-liter Lexus Hybrid Drive system, RC and IS chief engineer Junichi Furuyama stated at the time that the RC Coupe was designed to ”deliver extra response that exhilarates rather than overwhelms drivers”. At the time, we took that as an indication that this new coupe might end up being a lot more show than go. Fortunately, it turns out that the overwhelming level of performance was being reserved for another variant of the new coupe: the RC F.
Lexus really needed a new IS. Its entry level sport/luxury sedan was treading water, sure, but with a new BMW 3-Series and Cadillac ATS, outlier competitors like the Volvo S60 and Buick Regal, and newer, freshly facelifted models from Mercedes-Benz and Audi, it’s pretty clear that the sharks have been circling.
After a few days with the IS-F, we handed it off to Multimedia Editor Chris Amos, to put together one of our POV driving videos. If you want to know what driving the IS-F is like, just watch this.
Our first reaction? It looks like it was styled by an angry man with a samurai sword. That isn’t a bad thing. It’s exactly the sort of aggressive design we’ve been waiting for from Lexus, and there’s perhaps no more important of a vehicle for it to appear on than one that’s meant to do battle with the Cadillac ATS and BMW 3-Series.
You see, the standard Lexus RX is a top-notch isolation box. It’ll devour miles, children (oh, you know what we mean), and cargo with equal levels of aplomb. Its spacious, smooth-riding character is exactly what you want on a road trip, and it’s also plenty quiet when just driving around town. It is not, however, an involving vehicle. Even its 3.5-liter V-6 is oriented towards comfort. Sure, it packs a decent 270 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque, but it’s the buttery, refined character and engine note that make it a success. There’s a reason we didn’t include it in the four-way SUV roundup we conducted a few months back.
While only a concept at this point, the LF-CC serves as a precursor for a new mid-size coupe coming from the Japanese manufacturer sometime in the near future (we’d bet our bottom dollar said mid-sizer wears the IS badge). Under the hood lies an all new variant of the Lexus Hybrid Drive powertrain. The hybrid system consists of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine mated to an electric motor, and will see duty in several Lexus models. We’ll have to wait until Paris to find out exact specifications of the new powerplant.
Lexus is in the midst of an important transformation and is working hard to shed its stigma of being a rather dull and conservative brand. The latest example of this change can be seen with its significant refresh of the popular mid-size sedan, the IS. The steady handed spy photographers over at MotorAuthority captured a heavily camouflaged IS prototype during testing in the US.
We really can’t overstate how well Lexus did tuning this suspension. While we could feel, and to a lesser extent hear, the impacts, potholes, and imperfections, only the largest ones made it through to the cabin. We weren’t jostled or tossed about, though. Vertical motion was well controlled, with the ES feeling planted and controllable over the rough sections of tarmac. We suspect part of this had to do with the seventeen-inch wheels of our tester, while the rest was down to the revised suspension Lexus fitted to the new ES.
Lexus is reportedly working on a successor to the LFA according to a new report on AutoGuide.
This car is better than the old IS-F, by a fairly large margin. It feels sharper, more communicative, and generally a lot more fun. I still love the dual-stage exhaust, which sounds mellow at low engine speeds but sounds downright burly and racy north of 4000 rpm.
I’m going to go out on a fairly robust limb and say that there are plenty of drivers who a) like convertibles and b) like performance cars and c) would love to find convertible performance cars that are basically as good as their coupe siblings. Unfortunately, with the exception of cars like the Porsche Boxster that are designed from the outset as roadsters, mostly this doesn’t happen. Instead, physics intervenes, and the process of adding the convertible feature adds weight, raises the center of gravity, and reduces torsional rigidity. None of those changes improve driving dynamics. Of course, different manufacturers manage these tradeoffs with differing levels of artistry, but it’s not nice to (try to) fool Mother Nature.
On a hot and humid Michigan day, we have taken delivery of a Lexus IS-F. Its 5.0-liter V-8 produces 416 horsepower and 371 pound-feet of torque. Power is transmitted through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with paddle shifting.
We will be driving the IS-F for the next week, so let us know what your questions are.