2009 Lexus IS F Review

Passionate Performance: Take one IS sedan, drop in a huge V8 motor, and…

2009 Lexus IS F Review

Passion counts. It’s why Porsches win endurance races, Jeeps are good off-road, and Subarus can slide all day long on twisty gravel roads. This is why the teams of performance engineers behind the BMW M3, Audi RS4, and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG ensure those cars stand alone at the top of the sport sedan totem pole.



Unlike its German rivals, the IS-F can claim to be the fastest model in the fleet.


The IS-F project was driven by Yukihiko Yaguchi, a man who dreamed of fitting the Lexus V8 in the IS.

Well, they used to.


See, all a car company really needs to make a successful performance model is a person who is so totally committed to the task at hand that it consumes him. At Lexus, Yukihiko Yaguchi is that person. He not only found a way to develop a hot version of the IS luxury sedan under the noses of management, but he also found a way to have it powered by a Yamaha-massaged V8 engine from the Lexus LS.

The more than 400 horsepower motor didn’t fit. Or the LS-derived 8-speed automatic. So, he widened the front track by almost an inch and raised the hood, making the front profile resemble that of a bottlenose dolphin. His team then fitted a bodykit with brake cooling slats for the front wheels, a subtle rear spoiler, and a deep front chin spoiler — making the car more than three-inches longer than the standard IS sedan.

Lexus claims that Yaguchi and his team of more than 200 people worked during their own time and had approval from the keepers of the product planning expense budget. How they managed to test the car at racetracks around the globe, including Germany’s Nürburgring Nordschleife, France’s Paul Ricard Circuit, the Zolder track in Belgium, Fuji Speedway in Japan, and at California’s Laguna Seca is beyond us. Maybe they had a good line of credit.


So the IS-F has a good pedigree, has been tested at incredibly challenging race tracks, and costs about the same as both the BMW M3 Sedan and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG — $56,610 to the M3’s $54,500 and the 57,175 greenbacks you’d need for the C63. The Lexus is also in-between both on power: IS-F, 416; M3, 414; C63, 451. On the track, the IS-F is quick on the straights as it screams quickly toward its 6800 rpm redline. The 8-speed automatic does convincingly crisp shifts in “Sport” mode. A dual-inlet air intake allows a second intake to open at 3600 rpm for enhanced high-rpm breathing. The net result is 416 hp at 6600 rpm and 371 ft-lbs of torque at 5200 rpm and a sonorous soundtrack fit for McQueen.


The 14.2-inch front brake rotors with six-piston aluminum Brembo calipers and 13.6-inch rear rotors stop the car even better than it goes; put these on a mobile dentistry van and you’d have wisdom teeth pulled in no time. Then you hit a corner and a few things happen. First, if you turn in before finishing your braking, the ESP will kick in and you’ll miss the apex by a nautical mile. Second, if you put the power on too early, the chassis bucks and floats over bumps, making it likely you’ll use all of the track while sliding like a dog on linoleum. If you turn the ESP off, you can better appreciate the immense levels of grip afforded by the 19×9-inch rear BBS wheels and 255-series tires. You’ll enjoy yourself for three laps before getting stressed and sweaty from the hard work, preferring to slow down and turn on the optional $4,000 Mark Levinson 14-speaker stereo and air conditioned front seats.

The thing about the Germans is that they’ve got all sorts of performance algorithms programmed into their braking, steering, engine, and chassis systems. You can rip them ‘round the track all day long — making you look like a million bucks in the process — and never break a sweat. Then take you home in incredible comfort. Lexus doesn’t even offer adjustable suspension for the IS-F like the Germans do, a point proven by a passenger who poked at some buttons on the centre console, turned to me, and said, “Where’s the switch to turn the sport suspension off?”


A Japanese musclecar Large 5.0L engine means lots of torque Serious competitor to German offerings


Demanding on the driver Incredibly tight cabin Poor navigation system


To wrap up, thoughts on the interior: my over six foot frame doesn’t fit in the driver’s seat in an upright driving position. The navigation system is annoying, and there is no room to store anything in the cabin, apart from a Red Bull – which happens to be too skinny for the cup holder and will spill all over the beautifully supple leather interior.

If you buy one of the aforementioned German cars, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll own an incredibly well-engineered car that does everything you’d ever ask of it. That both slot in at the bottom end of their performance car range — the M3 is slower than the M5 and M6, while the C63 is the most junior of the AMG family.

There is no faster Lexus. The IS-F is it. It may have some rough edges, but this is one man’s vision of how a car should be, not a team’s. Yaguchi’s unique approach in making a muscle car shine through every mile while behind the wheel. I wouldn’t want it any other way either.


Yukihiko Yaguchi bio Is-f home page IS-F sound IS-F at Fuji Speedway

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked