Lexus has been doing this thing lately, call it a trend if you must. They take a normal car, like the IS350 for example and puts this badge on it… an ‘F’ badge. Now what do you suppose that does to their car, besides make it pretty…? Well, it does a whole lot of pretty things…
Last year we took a look at a standard IS350 sedan, and we liked it! In fact we liked it so much we named it our 2014 Small Luxury Car of the Year. Now this time we have the F SPORT and just by looks alone, it is starting to tickle our funny bone.
A standard IS350 (the V6 for those of you that didn’t know) starts out at 40-grand – the F SPORT jumps up 4-grand more. Starting at the top of the features list, the F SPORT package upgrades the exterior appearance with a more vigorous front fascia and black mesh spindle grille, then add on the 18” smoked alloy’s wrapped in summer tires and the IS portrays a fairly antagonistic stance. Finally add on our Atomic Silver paint and the IS350 F SPORT is about as bold as they come without rubbing it in too many faces.
Likes the standard IS350, you get the 3.5-liter dual overhead cam V6 that delivers a grin producing 306 horsepower that is delivered to the rear wheels. 277lb-ft of torque gets the tires smoking and to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds and to a top speed of 143 mph through a fantastic, crisp 8-speed automatic.
There’s no doubt the IS350 easily does straight-line speed and delivers a rambunctious grunt through its dual exhaust; however, with the F SPORT, it’s much more than that. Included with the F SPORT Package adds a Adaptive Variable Suspension – this becomes a true driver and machine combination. The suspension has a Jackal and Hyde design, under everyday driving conditions the IS350 is smooth and refined – it’s a comfortable luxury sedan. But then you change it over to SPORT PLUS and everything changes – the throttle responsiveness increases and holds the gears longer, the suspension is stiffened and much more agile, driving style is more aggressive and dynamic, corners are flat and leveled – you constantly feel the urge to go a little faster, go a little hard – finding the point of breaking the barrier of insanity.
Our tester here was also fitted with the optional $400 Variable Gear Ratio Steering which makes for a superb setup. There steering provides constant road feel and ultra-responsiveness to the drivers input. Just point and shoot. If you push hard enough – right to that insane edge, there is some understeer and that plays part to the heavy front-end – but unless your on a track, that point may never come.
On the other end of the F SPORT Package, it is more than just some pretty wheels and a fancy suspension system – you also get a very comfortable, luxurious cabin space. The F SPORT front seats are undeniably comfortable with excellent lateral body wrapping supports that also feature power adjustments and heated and ventilated functions. Also remember, the IS350 is a small sedan, which expresses in back seat comfort – leg room and head room is a bit snug if your passenger is over 6-feet tall – but overall satisfaction was high.
One of the best features we always admired was the interior architecture. The modern styled dash has an ergonomic efficiency – everything is within reach and every fit and finish is superb to the touch. With the F SPORT Package you also get a very techy LFA inspired digital TFT display cluster that is very retro and nerdy – right up our alley. Thankfully, the IS350 hasn’t moved forward with Lexus’ new touch pad interface on the $2,995 Navigation system. Still using the mouse control, the Navigation is driver friendly and features a 15-speaker Mark Levinson Premium Audio System, Back-up Camera, and Lexus Enform which gives you a real person to talk to.
Of course with something this much fun is strapped to your leg, it’s hard to be economical – the IS350’s fuel economy is rated at 19/28/22 (city/highway/combined). During our week we recorded not quite the same figures average 16 mpg in the city and a combined average of 20.7 mpg overall. Top off its 17 gallon fuel tank with premium grade fuel and the never ending entertainment continues onward for 330 miles.
Finding that right car that can provide an equal balance of comfort with the gratification of driving is almost like trying to find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. With the Lexus IS350 F SPORT, it may just be that pot of gold we’re all looking for.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2015 Lexus IS350 F SPORT:||$40,065|
|Variable Gear Ratio Steering:||$400|
|Blind Spot Monitor w/ Rear Cross Traffic Alert:||$600|
|Navigation System w/ Mark Levinson Premium Audio:||$2,995|
|F SPORT Package:||$3,740|