2008 Lexus IS F – Long-Term Road Test – Car Reviews – Car and Driver

23 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on 2008 Lexus IS F – Long-Term Road Test – Car Reviews – Car and Driver
Lexus IS F

2008 Lexus IS F

Rough rider: After 13 months with Lexus#146;s lusty M3 fighter, we have just one suggestion: Fix the ride!

Every so often, our long-term fleet acquires a special kind of car. Not a 10Best winner. Not a comparison-test winner.

Rather, a car that changes its segment or signals a radical shift in its maker’s attitude. The IS F does both. It’s a Lexus with true enthusiast credentials. This is roughly equivalent to saying it’s a granny who writes in regularly to Penthouse Forum .

The F stands apart from Lexus’s sporty IS line of cars with its large fender flares, 19-inch BBS wheels with matching summer-only tires, and a hood with a serious power bulge. Beneath that bulge resides an immensely powerful 5.0-liter, direct- and port-injected V-8 that delivers 416 horsepower through a slick eight-speed automatic. This magic setup is accompanied by a thunderous exhaust soundtrack.

Our IS F arrived last May with so many standard features that the only options we asked for were a $2550 navigation system and a $73 trunk mat. This is a fashionably snug car inside, so we passed on the sunroof in favor of the extra 1.8 inches of headroom it eats up. We chose the Starfire Pearl paint job, Lexus-speak for pearlescent white.

Our IS F glowed in daylight and sparkled in twilight, and a line formed quickly on the left to get in it. The tab came to $59,388.

That paint job also seemed to tone down the F’s mad-dog fender flares and allowed us to drive under the radar, as long as the revs were below 4000 rpm. Once above that mark, the exhaust note turns from a low grumble to a kind of baritone threat. Passing Ann Arborites in the know were quick to turn and marvel at the powerful sound.

Inside the car, drivers became addicted to the somewhat unsophisticated but wild roar that fills the cabin when the intake bypass opens.

Power and spooky exhaust rumblings aside, the one aspect of the F’s personality that got the most attention was its hard ride. Hardly a logbook entry was written without mention of it. Some said it was just plain rough; some said it was distracting to the point of seasickness.

Others did not seem to mind, and a few even enjoyed it, but those folk also drive ’30s hot rods.

Lexus IS F

Because the IS F sits so low to the road and its big wheels leave little space between fender and tire, there is very little suspension travel available, and the resulting tune is firm.

The car bucks and heaves and never settles down; it will bob like an apple over a seemingly good freeway. Nonetheless, Lexus claims its sophisticated sport-tuned suspension offers improved body control without degrading ride quality. We disagree.

One of our number with deep technical credentials noted astutely: “Lexus really needs a good suspension consultant to fix this car.” Indeed.

Ride aside, the IS F proved to be an excellent assault vehicle, expressly built for attacking expressways. While cruising at 85 mph, the eight-speed automatic keeps the revs below 2300 rpm. We averaged 21 mpg over the 40,000-mile testamazing for this naturally aspirated beast with 416 horses. Consider that our long-term BMW M3. which kicks out 414 horsepower, has returned 17 mpg over 30,000 miles of its stay here.

The IS F has achieved fuel economy as high as 28 mpg a few times, but its range on a full tank exceeded 400 miles only once.

How popular was this modern-day rod? It took just two weeks for it to rack up the 1000 miles required for its first visit to the Lexus shop, where it got a cursory inspection and a check of fluids. A little later, at 5000 miles, the dealer changed the IS F’s oil for the first time and examined the brakes.

These first two stops were complimentary, but every 5000 miles after that, the maintenance work came with a bill. At 10K, 20K, and 40K miles, the car got a brake-pad measurement along with the new oil and a new battery for the key fob. Each of those stops ran $163.

The 15K-mile stop, costing $156, included undercarriage, brake, and fluid inspections; new engine oil; and a cleaning of the cabin air filter. At 25K and 35K miles, the car only required fresh engine oil and a brake inspection. The costs mysteriously dropped from $156 for the 25K-mile service to $143 for the one at 35,000 miles.

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