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Lexus IS-F: Test Drive

Date: 22 October 2008

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £50,675
Key rival: BMW M3 saloon

Lexus has never really had a reputation for making cars centred around driving enjoyment and raw power, but the IS-F could change that.

At low speed and around town the 'F' version of the IS is smooth, refined and comfortable, and behaves like many other compact executive saloons. The interior is almost standard, too, so all that sets it apart from the regular car is a set of sport seats, a new steering wheel, a few badges and a stiffer ride.

Lexus IS-F_Page 19.gif

That is, until you put your foot down. The automatic gearbox is wonderfully smooth and helps propel the IS-F to 60mph in just 4.8 seconds. However, the best bit about this car's acceleration is not the speed or smoothness, but the noise: at about 3800rpm another air inlet opens and the engine note changes from that of a quick saloon to a screaming performance car. Eco driving is theoretically possible in any car, but it would be criminal to deny the Lexus' 423PS 5.0-litre V8 a voice.

Naturally this comes at a cost.

Fuel consumption is quoted at 24.8mpg, although sub-20mpg could easily be recorded. The IS-F also sits in the same 35% tax band as its BMW M3 and Mercedes C63 rivals, but while the Lexus' 270g/km means your conscience won't be clear, it's not as bad as the BMW with its 295g/km or the Mercedes with its colossal 319g/km.

A £50,000 super-saloon is largely an emotional purchase, so those lucky enough to do so on company cash won't worry too much about 111 pence per mile costs. This is mind bogglingly expensive when compared to the standard Lexus IS, but it is more than competitive in its field.