Lexus to enter uncharted territory with its F brand of performance models.
After Lexus trademarked the name IS 500 and later teased a new F Sport product, it seemed almost certain that these two events were connected. We finally know more about the automaker's plans after the reveal of the new 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance. Lexus says the new IS 500 "ushers in a new era of F Sport Performance models that will appeal to driving enthusiasts that crave higher levels of performance over the standard F Sport models."
But what does that mean exactly? To find out where the new IS 500 F Sport Performance sits in the Lexus lineup, CarBuzz reached out to Ryan Matsumoto, Senior Analyst for Lexus Communications.
"We've been carefully considering the market demand among the luxury sport sedan segment and realized that we have an opportunity between what we do with F Sport models and high-performance F models," Matsumoto explained. "This mid-performance area is a growing segment. The IS 500 F Sport Performance is the first vehicle that we are launching to cater to the growing mid-performance segment."
That explains where F Sport Performance sits compared to other Lexus models, but how does it stack up against other manufacturers? When mentioning competition for the IS 500, Matsumoto brought up the Audi S4, BMW M340i, and Mercedes-AMG C43, all of which use six-cylinder engines producing between 349 and 385 horsepower. The IS 500 holds a significant advantage on power, with a 5.0-liter V8 developing 472 hp.
Lexus hasn't provided official pricing for the 2022 IS 500, but it will likely cost less than the current RC F, which starts at $65,975. The IS 500 could potentially be priced much lower than the RC F, as there is a pretty substantial gap left above the $42,900 IS 350 F Sport. For reference, the S4 starts at $49,900, the M340i at $54,700, and the C43 sedan at $56,500, so we wouldn't be shocked if the IS 500 falls within this price range.
Matsumoto confirmed that the IS 500 is the first to wear the new F Sport Performance badge but said, "we cannot speculate on future models." With the IS 500 F Performance now producing the same amount of power found in the older RC F, we imagine that Lexus now has room to introduce higher performance F models into its lineup that will compete with Audi Sport, BMW M, and Mercedes-AMG.
"Those high-performance models are something we feel is important to the lineup. They are not something that is going away," Matsumoto said of the F models. "We may make some adjustments to the performance strategy, but as of right now we have those three tiers - F Sport, F Sport Performance, and F."
The following is purely speculative, but we believe this new IS 500 F Performance will get the ball rolling for a slew of new performance-oriented Lexus models. Recent rumors suggest Lexus is working on three F models, all of which will utilize a new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing around 660 horsepower. According to the rumor, the engine will find use in the LC F, LS F, and a reborn IS F to slot above the IS 500. These new F models should push Lexus into uncharted performance territory that finally matches the European competition.