9-30-22 How can a car this gorgeous be so angry? How do you get a sedan to behave like an aggressive rally car, but with style and sophistication? We had the Lexus IS 350 F Sport for a week to find out its secret sauce and we were thrilled at what we discovered. Full disclosure, this is one of my all-time favorite cars. Its timeless.
I like to start my reviews with the test drive because, well, that’s what I do. The IS 350 is a previous winner of the AutoFOCUS AWARD for both performance and design, so I had really BIG expectations going into the week with this gorgeous car with a nasty attitude. The F Sport adds to the swag and style that it already has. The very thought of getting behind the wheel has me daydreaming of all the different places to take the IS 350. Let's check it out.
There I am standing next to the Lexus IS 350 F Sport. I get inside and right from the start, the engine came to live with smooth aggression. Once I hit the test track area, I want to first test the steering, handling and control. The IS 350 F Sport feels solid, sporty and steady. The best feature I enjoyed on the open road was its feel of confidence in various conditions. The weight distribution is near perfect on sharp curves as the situation always varies out here. Sometimes traffic is thick, sometimes it's spaced out. It challenges you to drive it without fear. It's hard not to get excited. Clearly the IS 350 F Sport was made with performance drivers in mind. It certainly behaves exceedingly well and delivers the punch at the slightest touch of the gas pedal.
There’s the all-wheel drive powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 311 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Oh yeah, and it delivers rocket-like acceleration. For you performance-minded drivers, we achieved 0-60 in 5.5 seconds. The V6 engine is lots of fun but I suggest you have som ereal driving chops to get the very best out of this car. I was in the zone the whole time I drove it and found every excuse possible to get on the road. I'm not saying I possess ninja-like driving skills but I was able to get plenty of power and excitement out of that 311 horsepower engine.
Let’s focus on the various modes and the options that produce more variations in the drive experience. For performance minded drivers like myself, the option preferred is the Sport S and the Sport S+. These options really do squeeze more performance out of the vehicle and the subtle elements add to the sporty drive experience.
F SPORT models with DHP features Drive Select Modes; Sport S and Sport S+ that deliver advanced engine and transmission mapping for peak performance. Sport S+ shifts the amount of EPS steering assist and damping force for a much sportier handling and control that you can feel. Honestly, the IS 350 F Sport is at its best on the streets. Custom Mode is available on DHP models, for combinations for the powertrain (Normal/Eco/Power), chassis (Normal/Sport) and even the air conditioner (Normal/Eco).
Inside, during the drive, Active Sound Control has been improved to further enhance the exhilarating performance notes of the V6 engine while reducing unpleasant tones. For added performance appointments and for simply being awesome, the F SPORT models with DHP get a unique carbon-fiber rear spoiler and optional Carbon-fiber side-view mirrors. In addition, the IS 350 F SPORT gets a new Memory Package and comes in both rear- and all-wheel drive options with three distinct powertrain options.
Inside the IS looks ultra cool. Seriously. Look at the eye-popping interior front cabin to the left. Excellent! The interior is striking with a confident and efficient presentation. I sink down into the sporty and stylish F SPORT front seat surfaces and body hugging sides. Those seats are standard, heated and ventilated and they offer available two-way power adjustable lumbar support as well as four-way adjustable headrests. In front of the driver, a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel with unique center ornament, perforated leather-wrapped shifter and F SPORT combination instrumentation meter.
Down under the steering wheel is a cool and unique F SPORT accelerator pedal, brake pedal and footrest. Nice touchEven the lover bottom of the steering wheel has the F Sport badge encased into the wheel. Its clear that the "F SPORT" beand has some really classy accents.
All around the interior, the lines are clean and stylish, angular and lean. The mixture of leather, gloss and upscale elements are easy on the eyes. The driver and passenger compartment below. Its sweet right? One of the biggest issues I have with every vehicle I get into is a leg space.
I'm 6'3 with long legs (blame my Mom for that) so it's not uncommon for my knees to bump up against the lower dash or to have a little cramped issue when the knees get too close to the steering wheel. For that reason, I slide the seat all the way back and the steering wheel so that I can drive comfortably, especially when driving a performance vehicle. Of course there's also the headspace. Sports cars on notorious for being low but also innovative and bringing the seats back in a reclining position. This wasn't necessary in the IS 350 F Sport. It was made for a driver of various heights. The back seats were equally as attractive and sporty. There was actually room for me to sit back there. Believe me, its hard to make back seast look sporty but as you can see the the left, Lexus got it done.
Look at it in all its glory. LOOK at it! Once again, I'm extraordinarily biased because I fell in love with this vehicle at first sight. What you see above is a side profile that, as far as I'm concerned has always been ahead of the curve. Front to back it's got design attitudes and lines that are simply breathtaking. All lines flow from the lower grill and hood all the way back along the lower windows towards the back tail lights and lower bumper. The lower lines flow from the bottom and curve up towards the rear wheel and such a subtle manner that you can easily forget that you are being lured into a sense of motion. This is the secret of exterior design; to inspire motion, speed, confidence, boldness, style and of course when necessary, power and strength.
With the Lexus IS 350 f sport we're dealing with a four-door car that like other small sports sedans have to pull off the dual effort of being able to get a small family in it and yet still have the sizzle, sex appeal and performance identity that an exterior design can deliver when done properly.
Along with F SPORT 19-inch wheels, a unique center cap and larger rear tires for added performance (265/35R19), they are also equipped with a cool air intake with sound generator and an F SPORT exhaust and diffuser. In addition, unique F SPORT badges adorn the sides of the vehicle as well.