Lexus IS-F saloon long-term test review | Road Testing Reviews | Car Magazine Online

26 Sep 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Lexus IS-F saloon long-term test review | Road Testing Reviews | Car Magazine Online
Lexus IS F

Lexus IS-F saloon long-term test review

By the CAR road test team

Long Term Tests

24 December 2009 10:00

Long-term test goodbye 24 December 2009

I’m afraid I’ve been a bit lax with the Lex, or at least in telling you about it. The IS-F actually disappeared from the CAR car park in the autumn, since when I’ve been taking things at a somewhat more leisurely pace.

After 12 months and 22,000 miles at the wheel of a 170mph Lexus IS, I needed to calm down a bit. The F was seriously quick, particularly past 4500rpm when the two-stage intake system did its work and piped a load more power to the wheels and a brilliantly bassy growl into the cabin.

It was a great year, and not just because of the ability to hit 62mph in 4.8sec. There were surprises: regularly averaging an indicated 30mpg from a tank on longer journeys (on a V8 M3 rival!), making the back tyres last over 20,000 miles and finding that something went wrong (the keyless entry) even if it did fix itself by the next day.

I loved the IS-F’s dual personality, the fact that you could cruise around and let the eight-speed auto box do the work when you wanted to relax and that the seats offered comfort and support in equal measure.

Lexus IS F

But the ride from the non-adjustable dampers was dire, it annoyed me that you had to park up before disabling the stability system, the short 10,000 miles service intervals ramped up the cost and I really missed the practicality of my old Audi A6 Allroad. Obviously it would be unreasonable to expect a small sports saloon to be as useful as a wagon from the class above. But even among its peers, the Lexus struggles, offering far less luggage space, a smaller cabin and back seats that don’t fold down to allow longer loads.

So on more than one occasion I had to undertake a 140-mile round trip in our battered ’99 Focus when I needed to lug some big items. Don’t get me wrong, I like the old Ford, but it was a bit galling having to leave a £50k car on the drive. Watching a Clio breeze up my street last winter while the rear-wheel drive Lexus floundered in the snow was no fun, either.

It wasn’t snow that was to blame for the scrape on the front bumper (it wasn’t me, either!) but came to the rescue, filling and painting the damage at CAR’s office for a fraction of the price a bodyshop would have charged. Apart from that mishap, I didn’t incur any unexpected costs, although the front tyres would have lasted longer if they’d worn more evenly. Never did get to the bottom of that one.

I really enjoyed the Lexus but if I had £50k to spend on a sports saloon I’d probably spend it on a BMW M3, providing I could live with its massively inferior fuel consumption. Predictable, I know, but the bigger boot, folding back seats and softer ride would have as much to do with my purchase as its more interesting engine or more flamboyant cornering style, although a new limited slip diff option should even things on that count.

But don’t dismiss the Lexus out of hand. If you’re in the market for an M3 or C63, give the IS-F a try. It’s an interestingly different take on the sports saloon concept and the most characterful Lexus yet.

By Chris Chilton

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