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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, May 11, 2008

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

IS Furious By Greg Nakano In early 2008, Lexus, known for building automobiles that define luxury, released the company's first unique high performance vehicle, the Lexus IS F - a vehicle engineered to redefine the class standards for performance, handling, comfort and quality in a sports sedan and they hit it lock, stock and barrel.

Behind the "F" The "F", initially standing for flagship, is a part of every vehicle Lexus designs to be a flagship for the company. The IS F, however, is the first production vehicle to bear this identification in its name. Taking the meaning of the "F" to a new level, the IS F was designed like no other vehicle at Lexus. This high performance sports sedan was developed by after-hours enthusiasts, using innovative technology, and track tested at Nurburgring Nordschleife, in Germany's Eiffel Mountains; Circuit Paul Richard, in the South of France; Circuit Zolder, in Belguim; Laguna Seca Raceway; and at Fuji Speedway, in Japan. The inspiration for the "F" logo design was derived from the shape of Turn One at Fuji Speedway, the home circuit of the IS F. "With Lexus solidly established as a luxury leader, it was time to expand the brand's scope by offering unique high-performance models, and the IS F is the first," says Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing. "Lexus did not design the IS F as a direct competitor to any specific models, but as a true performance sedan in a distinctly Lexus way. The IS F is totally authentic with a unique interpretation of driving excitement at all speeds and provides a new definition of 'usable power.'"

Defining a Body Derived from the IS luxury sport sedan, the body of the IS F went through changes to optimize airflow management and down-force on the vehicle. The front fascia was redesigned, starting with a trapezoidal-shaped bumper that blends into the wider front fenders. The grille section is opened up to provide more cooling and the center section of the hood was raised for the high output V8 engine. Brake ducts are also added to the front bumper to provide cooling to the massive 14.2-inch rotors and six piston calipers manufactured by Brembo. The front is lighted by standard bi-xenon HID headlights with the Lexus Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS). The AFS system, which I find exceptionally useful, pivots the headlamp while cornering at night to illuminate more of the road.

The wider front fenders blend into the profile of the vehicle through functional front fender air outlets, which lead into an aggressive aerodynamic lower rocker panel. The front fenders are accented by the new "F" badge. A sleek silver "F" is accentuated by a thin blue outline on a black background. The roof-mounted shark-fin antenna adds to the overall look.

The rear bumper is redesigned with a more trapezoidal-shape to match the front bumper. Four exhaust diffusers are integrated into the rear bumper. The rear deck-lid spoiler and underbelly panels on the IS F provide the finishing touches on the aerodynamics of the vehicle.

Buffed-up Interior The Interior of the IS F has all the amenities of the standard IS, with a shot of steroids. The first thing you step into is the leather-trimmed sport seats which securely plant you in the seat for extreme driving, yet comfortable enough to take a six-hour road trip without braking your back or hips. The back passengers aren't forgotten either as they have their own individual rear seats - all branded with the "F" logo. The center console and doors are highlighted by an aluminized composite trim to set it apart from the IS. The gauge cluster also received some upgrades, machined aluminum bezels and an integrated voltmeter and oil temperature gauge.

Some of the standard features of the IS F are the 10-way adjustable front seats, with three separate position memories controlling the seats, power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and side mirrors, dual-zone climate control (and the system can adjust the upper and lower temperature of the vehicle due to ambient conditions or sunlight), automatic up/down positioning on all windows, Lexus' SmartAccess keyless entry system and push button start (eliminating the need to ever fumble for your keys), automatic rain-sensing windshield wipers, and heated and auto-dimming side mirrors. These are just some of the standard features found in the Lexus fleet. Add the optional Mark Levinson sound system, and you have no need to leave the inside of the vehicle. Walks to the store just got a lot further.

Heart of the Wild Underneath the hood is a whole new animal for the IS F - a naturally aspirated 5.0L engine producing a staggering 416 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and 371 lb-ft. at 5,200 rpm. It propels the IS F to an impressive 0-60 in 4.6 secons, the quarter mile in 13.0 seconds, and a track top speed of 170 mph - all while being classified as an Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle II (ULEV II). The engine is based on the 4.6L V8 from the LS and GS, but engineered to take the stress of a high horsepower engine that is durable enough for high-performance driving. The deep sound of the exhaust and the burst of power as you snap the throttle setting you back into the seats are exhilarating. Coming from a racing background, I took notice to some of the engine upgrades made to the IS F that one usually only finds in road racing or drag racing vehicles - e.g., an engine-oil cooler, transmission-fluid cooler and a fuel sub tank to prevent fuel starvation through turns. A sleeved aluminum block with steel liners, a forged crankshaft with micro polished journals, forged connecting rods, and pistons with low friction oil rings and coated skirts and that is just the block. The Yamaha-designed cylinder heads are even more impressive. Starting with the intake ports, the design maximizes intake-pulsation efficiency and increases air-intake volume through the engine. Titanium intake valves and roller rocker arms with needle bearings lighten up the valve train. The camshafts are a hollow composite camshaft with forged cam lobes. On the exhaust side, the VVT-i(Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence) system is used, which alters the valve timing hydraulically and monitors the engines speed and load to provide optimum valve timing for all driving conditions. The intake camshaft uses the new technology VVT-iE(Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence and Electronic Intake Valve Timing) which controls the valve timing electronically rather than hydraulically expanding the operational range of the timing at lower engine speeds or low oil pressure situations like cold starts. Working together, both systems improve torque, horsepower, efficiency and emissions through all engine speeds. A new innovative feature is the SFI D-4 (direct-to-cylinder injection system with secondary port injectors). This is a dual stage injection system the first being a direct-type high-pressure fuel injection system which provides cooling in the cylinders and a secondary low-pressure port fuel injectors to optimize power and efficiency at light to medium load conditions. To top it off the cylinder head is equipped with a scavenge oil pump which forces oil from the cylinder head back to the oil pan to ensure a steady oil supply even when cornering over 1 g. These are just some of the race-inspired changes made to produce the power, efficiency, emissions and be as reliable as the Lexus has known to become.

A Great Engine is Nothing Without a Great Transmission If you think the engine modifications to the IS F are impressive, the world's first 8-Speed Direct-Shift automatic transmission is going to blow you away. You may ask why an automatic transmission and not a manual? Lexus answers back with a transmission that performs better, shifts faster and, well, drives like a luxury sedan when sitting in stop-and-go traffic or when you aren't driving on a track. The new transmission started from the LS 460. A complete rework of the internals was in order. A special planetary gear set was created that allows a more compact design. The torque converter lock-up strategy was changed from a normal automatic transmission. Lockup in a normal transmission is done in the higher gears and low load situations which create a direct power path between the engine and transmission this helps preserve smoothness while also gaining fuel economy. The conventional lockup in the IS F is still used, but in the drive mode. When the shift lever is moved over to M (manual mode), this is where the transmission really becomes alive. The strategy changes to lockup the gears from second to eighth, eliminating any power loss one ordinarily has from the torque converter. First gear still uses torque multiplication for standing starts. There are two different modes for the transmission. Automatic will change the gears for you with the same smoothness and ease as the Lexus' automatic. In manual mode, the transmission is shifted through the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters or through the gear change lever with the ease of a quick flip up or down. In M mode, the transmission will hold the gear you have it in till you shift the vehicle. Holding it at the 6800 rpm redline, or when you decide to shift early. Among the most impressive features on the new automatic are the up-shift speed and throttle blipping downshift. Through new hydraulic-control technology, the IS F automatic transmission can be shifted into the next gear in an impressive 0.1 seconds - making it the world's fastest shift time for street legal production cars. This is six times faster than the regular IS models. In racing, a driver will sometimes blip the throttle on a downshift to match engine speed to for the lower gear. The IS F does this all for you. In a fraction of a second when the transmission is downshifted, the electronic throttle body is opened and the shift clutch is engaged for the lower gear. This all happens in 0.2 seconds. The IS F automatic transmission is the most impressive automatic I have ever driven. With this new technology, who would ever want to drive a manual transmission vehicle ever again?

Getting the Power to the Ground and Keeping it There! With all the changes to the body, engine power and transmission, what good would it be if you can't transfer that to the ground and keep it there, while still be able to control it? The body structure and rear subframe are connected through several reinforcements throughout. Also used are high-tensile strength sheet metal in 40 percent of the body for light-weight rigidity. The IS F sits one inch lower than the IS, lowering the center of gravity of the vehicle. The front double-wishbone and the multi-link rear suspension have the spring and damper rates increased with a monotube gas-filled shock. The monotube shock piston-rod is increased in size and a multi-leaf linear control valve design improves dampening force. A large-diameter hollow front sway bar and large-diameter rear sway bar are installed for added suspension support for less body roll. Suspension bushings are tuned for better response and the subframe suspension mounts are reinforced to reduce sway and help control under acceleration and braking. The front wheels measure 19 x 8 with a 225/40R19 tires and the rear is 19 x 9 with 255/35R19 tires. The wheels are a 10-spoke forged aluminum, manufactured by BBS for Lexus. The Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 and Bridgestone Potenza tires are specifically designed for Lexus to handle the 170 mph top speed, and to maintain the characteristics of a sports car while keeping the control and of comfort of a Lexus. The suspension is not complete without Lexus' Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM). The VDIM is specially calibrated for the IS F to increase handling and traction. VDIM integrates and manages the Electric Power Steering (EPS), Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), traction control (TRAC), the Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), and engine torque via the electronic throttle body. Combining all of these different systems the IS F can anticipate a vehicle skid or slide and helps correct the situation. The VDIM also manages the electronically controlled brake-based limited-slip differential. Three modes are accessible from a switch on the dashboard for Normal, Sport and Snow driving. Each mode offers a specific VDIM control over the vehicle. Sport mode offers higher thresholds for the vehicles control before it intervenes with the driver's driving characteristics.

Conclusion The all new Lexus IS F is a giant leap forward into the performance arena with all the amenities of a Lexus and a performance package to be sought after. The power, handling and all new transmission has stepped them into a new realm of vehicles with the likes of the BMW M3. If you are looking for the reliability and luxury of a Lexus and a true performance vehicle look no further than the Lexus IS F. SUMMARY JUDGMENT Lexus' first entry into the world of the fast and furious is nothing short of fantastic. SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: Lexus IS F Price: $56,000.00 base/$60,975.00 as tested Engine type: 5.0L/303.2cu DOHC, 32-valve, intake camshaft Electric Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-iE), Exhaust camshaft Hydraulic Variable Valve Timing with intelligence (VVT-i) Horsepower: 416 @ 6,600 rpm Torque: 371 lb-ft. @ 5,200 rpm EPA mileage: 16 mpg/city, 23 mpg/highway Drive configuration: Front engine, rear-wheel-drive Transmission type: 8-Speed Sport Direct Shift automatic with paddle shift and manual mode Front suspension: Double wishbone with high-mount upper arms, high-rate coil springs with bound stopper, monotube gas-filled shock absorbers, large-diameter hollow stabilizer bar Rear suspension: Multilink with low-mount upper arms, high-rate coil springs with bound stopper, monotube gas-filled shock absorbers, large-diameter stabilizer bar Wheels/Tires: 19 x 8 in. front & 19 x 9 in. rear; 10-spoke forged aluminum (BBS manufactured for Lexus). 225/40R19 93Y front & 255/35R19 96Y rear (Bridgestone Potenza, Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 built to IS F spec) Brakes: Front-14.2-in. drilled rotors with six-piston opposed aluminum calipers, high-friction brake pads Rear- 13.6-in. drilled rotors with two-piston opposed aluminum calipers, high-friction brake pads Four-wheel power-assisted disc brakes (Brembo manufactured for Lexus) with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist Overall length: 183.5 in. Overall width: 71.5 in. Overall height: 55.7 in. Curb weight: 3,780 lbs.

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