3. Lexus IS F
Very similar to the stunt Mercedes pulled with its AMG-ified C-Class, Lexus dropped a big old V8 in the engine compartment of its petite IS sedan to build a monster. Is there a conspiracy going on here? Perhaps.
In any event the IS F is a certified performance machine. It’s powered by a 5.0-liter two-by-four putting out 416 ponies and 371 lb-ft of twist. Direct AND port fuel-injection give this powerplant the best of both gasoline-delivery systems: a quiet idle and good cold-start behavior with economical operation and high output.
Matching this technologically advanced engine is an equally sophisticated transmission, a cutting-edge autotragic. It features eight forward speeds and a torque converter that can lock up between second and eighth gears for a more direct feel. But here’s a thought, for a connected feel how about offering a manual? It doesn’t get more direct than a drivetrain pressure plate clamping a friction disk to a flywheel.