by Jay Traugott
This is the car many enthusiasts have been waiting for, although it's been rumored for months. And now it's finally here. Presenting the 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance, a V8-powered Japanese hot-rod sedan that also represents the naturally aspirated engine's final hurrah. In the very near future, this motor will no longer meet emissions requirements, but Lexus wanted to make sure it went out with a bang.
The 2022 Lexus IS 500 is a rear-wheel-drive compact sedan that, in base form, was refreshed for the current model year. Those upgrades inside and out carry over to the V8 model. As the latest member of the F Sport family, the IS 500 joins other NA V8-powered models such as the RC F coupe and the LC coupe and convertible. The engine was previously found in the now-discontinued GS F midsize sedan, and the IS 500 seeks to fill that void. The IS 500 also has the distinction of being the luxury brand's first model in the new F Sport Performance line.
|F SPORT Performance||
5.0L V8 Gas
The 2022 IS 500 is based on the IS 350 F Sport, but there are many noticeable styling changes. For starters, the sculpted hood is raised by almost two inches and the front bumper and fenders have been redesigned with a more aggressive look. A set of 19-inch 10-spoke Enkei alloy wheels are standard. These new wheels are also incredibly lightweight; they're each nearly 1 pound and 2 pounds lighter front and rear, respectively, than the same sized wheels found on the 350 F Sport.
You'll also notice restyled lower rear diffuser to accommodate the quad exhaust system with those forever awesome dual-stacked pipes. There's also dark chrome window trim and a rear lip spoiler.
The overall exterior enhancements are relatively subtle, which is exactly the attitude Lexus aimed to achieve here because it's what's under the hood that counts most.
The IS 500's overall interior remains largely the same as that of the IS 350. This means a 10.3-inch touchscreen interface is now positioned three inches closer to the driver for easier access. Both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard fare. The instrument panel has its own special IS 500 animation.
Lexus did add black F Sport Performance badging on the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel and door sill plates. Another cool and unique feature is the IS F Sport accelerator and brake pedals, and footrest.
Standard safety features include the updated Lexus Safety System 2.5 with systems like Pre-Collision, Front Collision Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Pedestrian and Bicyclist Detection. The Dynamic Radar Cruise Control can be activated at speeds above 30 mph.
Under the hood lies the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8 rated at 472 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque. Power is routed to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission with variable drive modes, such as Sport S and Sport S+. Zero to 60 mph happens in 4.5 seconds and Lexus estimates a respectable 24 mpg highway rating. Impressively, the IS 500 weighs 3,891 pounds - only 143 pounds more than the V6-powered IS 350 F Sport.
The Dynamic Handling Package is standard and it includes an Adaptive Variable Suspension and a Torsen limited-slip differential for more precise cornering. 14-inch brake discs are found at the front wheels and 12.7-inch rotors are out back.
Lexus will announce pricing details closer to fall when the 2022 IS 500 F Sport Performance is due to arrive in dealerships. It's also too soon to know whether this will be a single model-year-only deal.
Future rivals will include the usual suspects in the high-performance premium compact sedan category: the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63. Both of those German-built, rear-wheel-drive rockets, however, are propelled by turbocharged engines. The M3 has a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six and the C63 boasts a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 473 hp and 469 hp. They're also not cheap with starting prices hovering close to $70,000. We expect a similar sum for the IS 500.
It's not too often that a mainstream automaker launches a new vehicle these days powered by a naturally aspirated V8 and yet, Lexus has done just that. It may be this engine's last dance, but it's certainly going out in style.