2008 Lexus IS F Auto Review

29 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2008 Lexus IS F Auto Review
Lexus IS F

2008 Lexus IS F

Mac Demere on 05.30.2008

If the Lexus IS F isn’t the best factory hot-rod ever, it’s in the top 10 of a very hallowed group.

To build the IS F, Lexus followed the basic hot rod recipe, which hasn’t changed much in 80 years. First, select a small, underpowered, but nice handling car. Next insert the biggest engine that can be shoehorned into the engine bay. In the ’60s, racing regulations required car companies to pretend they were selling the same cars they raced: The results included the ’62 Ferrari 250 GTO, ’69 Ford Mustang Boss 302, and the high-winged, slope-nosed ’69 Dodge Charger Daytona.

Many others followed the formula without racing intentions, such as the ’64 Pontiac GTO.


The heart of the IS F is a 5.0-liter DOHC V-8 that features both direct-into-the-cylinder and port fuel injection. The cylinder heads were co-developed by Yamaha and feature titanium intake valves-lighter and stronger than steel. These make maximum use of its electronically controlled intake cams.

Exhaust cams are the more conventional hydraulically controlled variety.

Behind only the engine, the IS F’s best feature is its eight-speed automatic transmission. But it’s far from a regular slushbox. Like a manual (or a Formula 1 transmission), the clutch is locked up in second through eighth gears. Upshift time is 0.1 second: Beat that in an M3.

Downshifts occur in 0.2 seconds and are accompanied by a throttle blip to prevent skidding the rear tires. Race drivers might match it on a perfect day, but the auto does it every time. Drivers can either leave it in the fully automatic mode or use the Formula 1-style shift paddles on the steering wheel. If you choose to use the paddles, a single beep reminds of the approaching redline and a pair of beeps reprimands your attempt to downshift at too high of a speed.

Many other semi-automatic transmissions-the otherwise excellent Porsche Tiptronic, for one-gave no audible indication of a rejected downshift, leaving the driver in too high a gear to accelerate out of the corner.

Lexus IS F

Toyota claims 0 to 60 mph acceleration is in the mid-four-second range. Its quick shifting automatic may offset its 200-pound weight penalty over the ’08 414-horsepower M3. Lexus says the IS F is electronically limited to 168 mph, which makes it the fastest production Lexus ever.

Other additions include giant Brembo brakes with 14.2-inch front rotors and six-piston aluminum calipers and 12-inch rear rotors. Don’t pound on the brake pedal unless you really mean it. There’s also multi-level switchable electronic stability control that’ll allow you to have plenty of fun on back roads but will help prevent you from immediately wadding up your new toy. Except for experienced racers on a racetrack, fully disengaging the stability control is asking for a crash.

Even a simple smoky burnout will significantly reduce the grip of the rear tires by overheating and permanently damaging the rubber. That’ll cause the tail to slide excessively on your favorite on ramp. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $56,000.

About the only fault of the IS F is a harsh ride over uneven pavement. Driving the IS F as a daily commuter will be like having regular lunch dates with Miss September: You won’t be able to enjoy the full potential of the situation. Pothole-plagued roads may damage the 19-inch low-profile tires and wheels. The latter is a big deal because the wheels are directional and of difference widths front and rear.

Not only can a right front not go on the left rear, it can’t go on the left front.

Here’s the biggest problem with the IS F: The combination of its awesome power, butt-saving handling technology and amazing transmission will convince many mediocre drivers that they’re the best there’s ever been. Already, most men think they can out-drive, out-shoot, out-ride, and out-love all others. But there are a lot of cars, shotguns, horses and women who don’t agree. The IS F will only add to the illusion. (www.lexus.com)

Lexus IS F
Lexus IS F
Lexus IS F
Lexus IS F
Lexus IS F
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