One is for the streets and one is for the track. Both are brilliant.
Lexus loves a special edition for almost any and every model it sells, but lately, it has been finding better ways of drawing attention. For one thing, the brand has a tie-in with the upcoming Marvel Eternals film, and for another, it has two new builds at SEMA.
The regular Lexus IS is a great base from which to start if you're looking to build a tuned luxury sedan, and the IS 500 is arguably even better, so Lexus decided not to choose and has instead released a modified version of each to display at the Las Vegas aftermarket tuning festival.
For the IS 350 F Sport, Lexus partnered with DSPORT Magazine and Lexus ambassador Scott Pruett to create what it calls a "reverse build", focusing on the exterior, suspension, and some interior aspects.
The exterior features a unique wrap designed by Troy Lee Design and installed by Boss Wraps and is inspired by Pruett's helmet art. This is stretched over a brand new hand-laid body kit from Artisan Spirits that makes its global debut here, giving the IS sedan more width and attitude. This will help the car put its power down better, while the cabin boasts a four-point roll bar with Sparco harnesses and Sparco QRT-K carbon/kevlar race seats.
Enhancing handling is a set of custom KW V3 coilovers while the Lexus RCF Track Edition has donated its carbon ceramic braking system. For the track, Advan Racing Beyond GR forged 19-inch wheels in a Hyper Black machine finish are fitted, while on show days, the car wears 20-inch KPS wheels from Rotiform in Matte Monaco Copper. For SEMA 2022, Lexus wants to double the car's 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V6's 311 horsepower and further improve its ability on track. We look forward to seeing this project completed, but it seems like all good project cars, it will be a continual evolution.
But what about the IS 500? This is just as exciting a build, albeit more focused on styling.
On the 5.0-liter V8-powered IS 500, Lexus worked with Hiraku Co. and Lexus ambassador Townsend Bell. A one-off 3D printed body kit was created by Hiraku Co., adding a front lip spoiler, side steps, a rear diffuser, front fenders, bumper canards, a rear roof spoiler, and rear bumper garnish. Further enhancing style is a Seibon carbon fiber hood with a matching trunk, with the body finished in a "retina-piercing" vinyl wrap.
With the V8 developing 472 hp, not many mods were needed under the hood and the team added a custom A'PEXi induction box with a TOM'S Racing carbon inlet. A'PEXi also supplied an N1 Evolution Extreme Quad Ti-tip exhaust system while better throttle response comes courtesy of a Shiftpower 4.0 throttle controller by Beat Sani.
To make the most of the freer breathing engine, the chassis was stiffened at the front and the rear with TOM'S parts, while A'PEXi supplied its N1 EXV 32-way adjustable coilovers for better road-holding. 20-inch Rotiform LAS-R wheels with unique aerodisc wheel covers are wrapped in Nitto Invo rubber, which is curious since the IS 350 build gets Michelin tires for both its wheel setups. Brembo GT brakes with custom-painted calipers complete the build.
We really do like looking at all the special editions and concepts that Lexus creates, but it really seems that the company wants to build something faster and more exciting. It clearly has the vision - now the bean counters just need to allow us to have F versions of all Lexus sedans and coupes.
Lexus is using SEMA 2021 to focus on its F models, highlighting the new F lineup. It comprises F Sport Design, F Sport Handling, F Sport Performance (the IS 500 falls under this bracket), and genuine F models - "the highest expression of Lexus performance."