So far Lexus has succeeded where all Japanese 'luxury' makers have failed - taking on the Germans. However missing in this incredible portfolio has been a dedicated performance lineup, but it's here now, the first of Lexus' new 'F' performance vehicles to be offered in Australia .
Much like the introduction of TRD for Lexus' parent company Toyota, the F performance vehicles have a lot to prove. However unlike TRD and the supercharged Aurion, the Lexus IS-F is an uncompromising rear-wheel-drive monster.
"From the tyres to the gearbox and engine, IS-F has been designed to stimulate the senses and deliver a driving experience that is unheard of in a Lexus. There is no doubt that IS-F will bring a whole new group of customers to the Lexus brand." Lexus Australia chief executive John Roca said.
Powered by Lexus' newly developed 5.0-litre V8, the IS-F produces over 300kW and more than 500Nm of torque (exact figures are still a secret). All that power propels the IS-F from 0-100km/h in less than 4.9 seconds, (top speed of 270km/h - governed).
Going by manufacturer figures, this puts the Lexus 0.1 second behind Audi's RS4 and BMW's M3 (both 4.8 seconds), the IS-F's main rivals. The latest M3 has 309Kw and 400Nm of torque, while the current RS4 has 309kW and 430Nm of torque.
Acceleration figures are surprising given the IS-F is driven via the world's first and fastest production eight-speed Sports Direct Shift (SPDS) gearbox, which can shift in just 0.1 second. But we shouldn't make a big fuss over 0.1 of a second in official figures.
Features for the IS-F include a special three-stage version of Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics integrated Management (VDiM) system. The system allows drivers to set VDiM between fully on (Sport mode) or off - for the most experienced of drivers.
Lexus believes the VDiM system will make even the better drivers lap a track faster with it on than off. This should hopefully mean the VDiM works with the driver rather than against.
From the outside, the rear quad tailpipes, wider front guards, larger grille, rear spoiler and unmistakable bonnet bulge will undoubtedly earn the Lexus brand some much needed street-cred, and with the power to back it up, Lexus are about to enter a whole new era.
CarAdvice will bring you a complete road test of the IS-F next year.
2008 Lexus IS-F Specifications
Engine: 5.0-litre DOHC V8
Estimated power: more than 300kW
Estimated torque: more than 470Nm
Transmission: eight-speed Sports Direct Shift transmission with paddle shift manual mode
Front: 360mm ventilated and drilled discs with six-piston opposed aluminium calipers
Rear: 345mm ventilated and drilled discs with two-piston opposed aluminium calipers
Front: 19 x 8-inch BBS forged aluminium rims with 225/40R19 sport tyres
Rear: 19 x 9-inch BBS forged aluminium rims with 255/35R19 sport tyres
0-100km/h: under 4.9 seconds
Top speed: 270km/h (governed)