Don’t look now, but Toyota and Lexus have finally given people what they’ve been asking for. A true sports sedan. Compared to the coupe RC F, the new IS 500 F Sport Performance (let’s just call it the IS 500) is more practical, better on fuel, and almost the same speed. You may have noticed the bulging hood… good. That’s one of the biggest new upgrades over the regular IS 350, a vicious naturally aspirated 5.0 L V8 dubbed with a 8 speed Toyota built transmission. Storming out nearly 472 horsepower and 395 ft-lbs of torque, the IS 500 is leaps and bounds more powerful than any other Lexus sedan we’ve seen.
The exterior gets a huge refresh yet maintains the iconic Lexus look. With chrome barred from the outside and blacked out everything, the IS 500 takes on a stealthy villainous look. Functional vents are pleasant to see, but the mammoth grill on the front does slash some marks for me. We’re driving a car for Pete’s sake, not a Boeing jumbo jet. Sharp and cunning headlights and taillights push the aggressive look and keep the IS 500 bolstered in the 21st century. The stacked, Lexus staple, quad exhaust reminds anyone behind you what this truly is, a fire breathing monster that can roar at its leisure. Lexus assures us that this thing is throaty, and I could listen to that Lexus sonorous engine all day. Hoisted on top of 19-inch multi-spoke Enkei wheels make the IS 500 a track monster yet a grand tourer at your whim. Putting all the pieces of the puzzle together is a massive rear diffuser and a sleek lip spoiler for a solid aero performance.
Oh, and the hood, how could we forget about the hood. No, that’s not something else bulging. That would be the 2-inch hump in the middle of bonnet hiding something sinister. A 5.0 liter, 472 horsepower, naturally aspirated demon. Lexus says its 0-60 time will be 4.5 seconds or so, a super respectable time for a car in this class. Only about 100 lbs heavier than the IS 350 with that much more power will definitely make for an interesting combination. To compliment it even more, the IS 500 uses an 8-speed automatic with a rear-wheel drive platform making the back end come out super easy. It’ll be even more easy with the standard limited slip differential that is pulled straight out of the RC F. A throaty exhaust system with quad exit tips let the engine exhale freely while still maintaining the Japanese rumble. A loud exhaust makes a great pairing for any sports car, and this is no different. Lexus’ Dynamic Handling Package comes standard on all IS 500s and make for a superb experience on the track. Functional vents slurp up air and send it to the brakes, essentially engineering brake fade out.
Hop inside and you’ll be greeted with a luxurious interior as always in a Lexus. A beautiful leather wrapped wheel, brushed aluminum drive mode selector, and an unique start up animation and dynamic gauges greet you right away. Heated and cooled seats make the interior nice and toasty and a huge infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple Carplay provide entertainment at your leisure. Lexus’ full suite of driver assistance and safety features are available such as and not limited to: blindspot monitoring, forward collision warning, pedestrian warning, a HUD, and emergency braking. Adaptive cruise control also is added to the list, making this a perfect grand tourer.
It’s still early, but the new IS is shaping up to be a well rounded monster no matter how you look at it. Limited information is available but will arrive sooner to launch. Starting price is yet unknown but will be less than the RC F, as well fuel economy ratings are TBA. This is also the first vehicle in Lexus’ new F Sport Performance lineup, a bit vague as to what that truly is or what it means, but we’ll find out soon enough. Dealerships are set to receive the IS 500 later this fall.