Lexus works ISF magic

It’s with a tear in his eye that PETER BARN­WELL hands back the key to the Lexus ISF.

The Weekend Post - Motoring - - Front Page -

WE have “done” af­ford­able cars un­til we are blue in the face and the bit of lux­ury hav­ing the Lexus ISF long term was a treat.

Our time in the ISF was punc­tu­ated by an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of just what Lexus has done with this hand-built car. It ri­vals the Ger­mans for per­for­mance and han­dling and af­ter all, that’s what this class of car is all about.

It came out of a “skunk works” at Lexus with a com­mit­ted rac­ing en­thu­si­ast at the helm. He drove the project, got in touch with Yamaha to build the sweet 5.0-litre, di­rect in­jec­tion V8 and picked all the good bits like Brembo brakes and the eight speed sports auto trans­mis­sion to give the car sports cred and a per­for­mance edge.

The group spent plenty of time at Fuji race­way fet­tling the ISF that, as a re­sult, ended up scor­ing a me­chan­i­cal limited slip dif­fer­en­tial in ver­sion two for bet­ter drive out of cor­ners, bet­ter over­all feel.

It re­ally gets mo­bile de­spite tip­ping the scales at 1700kg. It puts away a 0-100km/h sprint in 4.8 sec­onds. One won­ders whether they are de­vel­op­ing a lighter ver­sion that would un­doubt­edly be quicker and pos­si­bly use less fuel.

With 311kW and 505Nm per­co­lat­ing out of the com­pact en­gine, the ISF has su­perb re­sponse across a wide rev range. Push the Sport but­ton near the steer­ing wheel and it grows horns as the en­gine re­sponds even quicker, the sus­pen­sion stiff­ens up and the auto goes into race change mode com­plete with a throt­tle blip on the down change if you use the pad­dles on the wheel.

We like the look of it de­spite the overt bon­net bulge and lurid side air vents cut in be­hind the front wheels. It is well set­tled on the sus­pen­sion and rides on glam­orous 19in al­loys with wide rub­ber.

In­side is mod­ern and func­tional with fo­cal points on the sil­ver car­bon fi­bre fas­cia and the blue/white dash.

It’s a wor­thy com­peti­tor for the two Ger­man com­pact sports saloons and ac­tu­ally costs thou­sands less. Would we change any­thing? Yep, the ex­haust note and the lock­ing sys­tem which bor­ders on the para­noid. And we reckon they aren’t try­ing with 311kW from this hi-tech 5.0-litre V8 – it should be 375 (the magic 500 horse­power).

If you can’t run to the $130,000 for the ISF, there’s an IS350 V6 com­ing out soon with plenty of mumbo and splashes of ISF DNA if you get our drift.

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