IS Fs fly under the radar a bit, which I like. People either don’t know about them or think they’re an IS250/350. That is also fine by me. Before the IS F, I had a Renault Megane Sport 225 Cup with some engine and suspension modifications, and it was a really fun car to drive. However, I wanted a V8 and started looking around, when the IS F caught my eye.
They seem to stay on the market for a while, and I had my eye on a 2010 MY11 that was on the usual sites, plus the Lexus forum. Just when I was thinking of making an offer it was sold! Undeterred, I flicked the seller a message and let him know I was interested if the sale fell through. Being a very nice chap, he kept me updated, and what do you know, the sale wasn’t completed and a few weeks later I was nervously driving the IS F back home. That was May 2018.
The previous owner had installed Novel equal-length headers, a Joe Z PTS exhaust, ECU remap, and a couple of subtle cosmetic mods to enhance the more squat and muscular appearance of the F. The exhaust work makes it loud, but with more of an exotic high-pitched wail than Holdens and Fords, for example.
It has an eight-speed automatic with very crisp shifts up and down (blips the throttle on the downshifts) in F sport mode, and helped by the metal paddle shifters connected to the steering wheel. Left in last auto mode, there is a nice slurred shift feel. Floor it and this thing moves with traction and stability control, as well as the slightly oversize 275mm rear tyres keeping things in order so you just feel a bit of a wobble from the rear.
Very linear acceleration and it doesn’t run out of breath (at least at legal or slightly illegal speeds…). I’ll have to give it a try with the nannies switched off, though. Maybe the track-day voucher I was given for my birthday will be the time so I don’t lose my licence.
I think it handles well – not as nimble as the much lighter Megane Sport, but I’ve got no complaints. The suspension is taut but compliant. The Brembo brakes are great (six-pot front, two-pot rear) and pull you up very well, although dust is an issue.
The seats are very comfortable and have a lot of adjustments, both fronts with memory. The rear is cramped, but I rarely have passengers apart from the dog. I did swap in an IS250 rear squab, which is more comfortable for the dog than the IS F’s that has a hard plastic centre section. The interior has held up well for an eight-plus-year-old car. The carpets are still plush and the leather and dash surfaces all still look good.
The paint seems good quality, but to be safe I just had paint correction and ceramic coating done, which have brought back the lustre. Bummer it’s a black car, though, as they’re never clean!
The ‘stereo’ sounds fantastic with 14 speakers, and this model had USB input and I still play CDs. The touchscreen interface is dated but does the job. The controls are all well placed for me with good tactility. Radar cruise control is a bonus and the air-con is icy cold. I wish it had ventilated seats, though, and velour for that matter, which I would much prefer over leather. Bring back velour seats I say! The steering wheel needs to be thicker, so I think I’ll buy an aftermarket Alcantara one that I’ve seen on the forum.
It’s a 5.0-litre V8, so it is heavy on fuel around town and okay on the highway. I’m not fussed about fuel costs, though, as I enjoy driving the car (and listening to the sound) and it puts a smile on my face.
Lexus service is very reasonably priced, although I have sourced the Brembo rotors off eBay from the USA for about a third of the cost (landed) here in Oz.
I can’t compare my IS F to the competition at the time, which was the M3 or the C63, as I’ve not driven those cars (but would like to). It is streets ahead of the HQ Premier wagon with the 308 and four-speed manual I had about 30 years ago, though!