New Lexus IS 500 is the first in a new lineup of F Sport Performance models.
The new 2021 Lexus IS is an improvement over the old model, but as good as it is, there hasn't been something with a bit of bite in the lineup for some time. While we patiently await the hardcore IS F, Lexus has unleashed the luxury sedan with V8 power in the form of the IS 500 F Sport Performance. This is the first model in a new range from the Japanese marque that will sit below full-on F models and above sporty trims with the F Sport name.
But it's more than just added power and while it's not the full-fat IS F we've been waiting for, it looks more than good enough for now.
The new model is exclusive for the American market and produces an impressive 472 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque from its 5.0-liter naturally aspirated V8. As mentioned above, this is the first model in the F Sport Performance line and features the traditional quad-exit exhaust that you'd expect of a Lexus with an F badge. It'll do 0-60 mph in just 4.5 seconds and is equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission with variable drive models, including Sport S and Sport S+. Going forward, all F Sport Performance models will come standard with unique black badges, and this 2022 rear-wheel-drive sedan wears them perfectly.
Now despite having a bigger engine, the 2022 IS 500 F Sport weighs only 143 pounds more than the standard IS 350 F Sport, with a curb weight of 3,891 pounds. The hood has also been raised by nearly two inches and features "sculpted center character lines", while both the front bumper and front fenders have been lengthened slightly to accommodate that larger engine. But what about safety?
Lexus hasn't forgotten about this, and has added a few new features as part of Lexus Safety System + 2.5. This suite includes forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, and cyclist detection. There's also an emergency steering assist system, full-speed adaptive cruise control with overtaking, lane keep assist, auto high beams, and traffic sign recognition.
Other standard features include adaptive suspension and a Torsen limited-slip differential and a Yamaha rear performance damper that reduces structural distortion for better low-speed comfort and enhanced high-speed stability. 14-inch front brake discs are complemented by 12.7-inch rear rotors. Exclusive 19-inch wheels from Enkei surround these brakes and are around one pound lighter per wheel in front and two pounds lighter per wheel at the rear compared to the standard 19-inch F Sport wheel.
A diffuser accent and rear lip spoiler add subtle aggression, while inside you get a heated steering wheel, alloy pedals, and a unique cluster start-up display. It all looks very promising, but we'll have to get closer to the fall, when the car debuts, to learn more about pricing and options.