For model year 2014 Lexus has introduced an all-new IS 250 and IS 350 infusing both models with a new aerodynamic body and more driving dynamics. The new 2014 IS F model did not join the lesser IS models but kept its racy looks, track focused engine and chassis performance technology but did add interior and trim changes to keep IS F current in its seventh year. New for 2014 are LED foglamps, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, all headrests embossed with the ‘F’ logo, Alcantara black trim added to the doors and center console cover, and red leather-trimmed sport bucket seats receive black Alcantara inserts with red perforation and black leather-trimmed headrests. Lexus says that they will introduce and all-new IS F in about two years. This road rocket from Lexus is a great sedan for driving on the track or road and also remains comfortable and practical to drive every day, a true dual-purpose machine with Lexus’s signature luxury, comfort, ergonomics, connectivity and attention to detail.
2014 Lexus IS F Quick Driving Impressions by Malcolm Hogan – Publisher of AutomotiveAddicts.com
The 2014 Lexus IS F carries on with the outgoing body style yet still captures the current attainable performance panicle of the Lexus brand. Although the redesigned Lexus IS has captivated many with its bold styling, the 2014 Lexus IS F retains the outgoing design packing in the highly praised 5.0-liter V8 pumping out 416 horsepower mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Driving dynamics and the over-all performance character of the Lexus IS F remains well intact. Charting the changes for the 2014 model concludes with the addition of LED fog lights, a carbon fiber rear spoiler, full semi-aniline leather trimmed seats with embossed “F” logos on the headrests, and Alcantara trim for the center console and door inlays.
Despite my anticipation for a redesigned IS F or the introduction of the rumored RC-F Coupe potentially featuring a re-worked version of the current IS F’s 5.0-liter V8 engine, the 2014 IS F is an admirable road-going luxury performance sedan. The vehicle’s balance on the road proves its willingness to be pushed harder as you depart from the legal speed limits. On the highway, the 2014 Lexus IS F keeps a steady helm without much initial harshness from its exclusively sport-tuned suspension system. The dampers keep things civilized but while they are rather firm when pushing the IS F on curvy roads. The dampers and stiffened springs hardly ever emit any unwanted reverberations over small imperfections in the road as you think it would. In a nutshell, the Lexus finesse is retained within the solid chassis and admirable smooth but sporty ride.
Power from the V8 engine, growling like a mad beast after its dual-stage intake manifold opens its mouth around 3,500 rpm, is available in large doses across the rpm range. The only pitfall of the forward motioned performance of the Lexus IS F remains to be its 8-speed automatic gear box’s hesitation in down-shifting from a higher gear to a much lower cog. The transmission, despite having well-matched ratios for the V8’s power output curve, the unit has an annoying lag in the time it takes to downshift from higher gears. Basically, stomping on the gas while cruising in either 6th, 7th or 8th gear requires a second or two before the transmission fully downshifts to the proper lower gear. The rev-matches are performed seamlessly but are hindered by the slow down-shift response of the 8-speed auto box.
In expected Lexus fashion, and after perfecting the cabin of the outgoing IS for many years now, the IS F’s interior emits impeccable fit and finish. With the slight addition of Alcantara pieces and nicely accented and supportive leather sport seats, the interior comes to life to partially mimic the stout LFA’s exotic disposition.
For buyers looking to step into the paramount of performance within the current Lexus line of vehicles, you can easily find pleasure in the new 2014 Lexus IS F. Those awaiting the return of the IS F in a bold flavor to mimic the new design of the 2014 Lexus IS will hopefully not be disappointed in carrying over the current IS F’s powertrain with some needed refreshing for the transmission. Until then, the 2014 Lexus IS F serves as a pursuit of perfection not far behind its German competition – and with its competitive price tag of around $66K it could win many enthusiasts over.
I’ve driven the all-new Lexus GS 350 F Sport and Lexus LS 460 F Sport which are great sedans but the IS F really gets my juices flowing with its rocket sled acceleration-0-60mp in just 4.4 seconds with a fantastic controlled chassis performance giving me a highly satisfying machine for driving at high speeds on the highway or when tackling steep curving roads.
The race-bred 5.0 liter V8 engine is a work of automotive high-technology. It features DOHC’s with Intake Camshaft Electric Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-eE) & Exhaust Camshaft Hydraulic Variable Valve Timing with Intelligence (VVT-i), Direct-to-Cylinder injection with secondary port injectors, a forged crankshaft with mirror-finish polished journals, forged sintered iron alloy connecting rods, high-flow cylinder heads designed by Yamaha, Lightweight hollow, chain-driven camshafts with forced lobes, titanium valves operated by roller rocker arms, dual air-take system to maximize power at all engine speeds, and a scavenge pump that ensures a reliable oil supply even during cornering that exceeds 1g. Specifically designed for the IS F, this race-bred V8 accentuates both high output and high durability. It generates 416hp at 6,600rpm and 371lb.ft. of peak torque at 5,200rpm. While able to provide an instant rush of power and sustain high engine speeds for track driving, the 5.0 liter V8 remains utterly unruffled and refined in everyday driving. When I push the start button and light up the V8 a muscular low rumble comes out loud emanating from the low-restriction dual exhaust system which terminates in unique stacked five inch oval chromed exhaust outlets.
Note only does the four stacked exhaust system scream high-performance, the car’s wide-body design also does much to convey its high-performance abilities. The widened fenders were designed to clear the staggered 19X8.5 inch front and 19X9.5 inch rear, BBS designed for Lexus, custom wheels. These lightweight alloy wheels are wrapped with Bridgestone high-performance Potenza tires low-profile tires, 225/40R19 inch up front and 255/35R19 inch in the rear. These awesome high-performance tires really grip the road at launch and in the steepest curves while also giving the interior an extra quiet environment with the windows and sunroof closed.
Management of the airflow for the engine and brake cooling can be seen in the large upper and lower mesh grilles, along with brake cooling ducts in the lower grille and air inlets in the front fenders. The new carbon fiber rear spoiler does its job of keeping the rear solidly planted on the pavement at high speeds. The standard cats-eye headlamp cluster features Bi-Xenon HID headlamps plus a lower string of LED daytime running lamps and the new HID foglamps down below. Flat underbody panels manage airflow thus enhancing stability at high-speeds. The silhouette shows the raised center section in the hood that clears the 5.0 liter V8, steeply raked windshield A-pillars, bodycolor power remote/self-dimming/puddle lamp/defogger sideview mirrors, bodycolor pullout door handles, buttoned up windows wrapped with a tasteful full-perimeter chrome strip and a short deck. The front fenders and rear hood lid shows the silver, black and blue F badge. The IS F cuts through the air with a very low 0.30 coefficient of drag.
The interior of the IS F features Lexus luxury and race-car styling cues. Aluminized composite trim, chrome, 10-way powered/heated two-tone comfortable and extremely supportive sport bucket seats up front and two in the rear, an LFA inspired electroluminescent ‘F’ spec gauge cluster with large centered tachometer/speedometer readout, oil/engine coolant temperature/fuel slide gauges to the left plus a smaller speedometer located on the right side including a shift indicator, and trip computer readout-fantastic.
The two-tone/perforated leather wrapped power tilt/telescopic steering wheel is the perfect size for precise handling and feels great in my heads. It features buttons for the audio system, Sport mode and Bluetooth. The chrome wrapped center stack is easy to reach and use and the unique carbon fiber center console features dual cupholders, a cigar lighter/ash tray, padded armrest and deep storage bin. All of the touch points are soft and high-quality for that luxury finish. The leather-wrapped and chrome stick shifter is perfectly placed for easy use as are the paddle shifters located on the steering wheel. All buttons, dials and switches are easy to use and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel. The ‘F’ logo is found inside on the steering wheel, the rear-center console with a fold-down armrest and pop-out dual cupholders, floor mats seat sides and all seat headrests. Standard features not mentioned above includes 3-person driver/passenger memory, auto dual-zone climate control with pollen filter, aluminum door sill plates, carbon fiber door switch plates, self-dimming rearview mirror, power door locks, all express up/down windows, Lexus Premium Audio system with 13-speakers, automatic sound levelizer, Bluetooth, USB audio plug, Sirius Satellite Radio, Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, Lexus Personalization settings, rain-sensing wipers/washers, dual map lights, power moonroof, Homelink, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, remote trunk and fuel filler door, dual lighted vanity mirrors, grab handles above each door and rear air-outlets behind the center console. Attention to detail is found all over the interior, another Lexus cue. The new 2014 IS F has it all to keep me comfortable with high-performance and luxury cues throughout the cabin.
The real fun and thrills begin when I turn on the engine and get ready to be pushed hard into the seatback. I feel one with the car as it impeccably follows my every input quickly and precisely with confidence. The eight-speed Sport Direct automatic transmission proves to be very intricate part of the exciting driving experience with racecar dynamics. For maximum performance I shift manually with steering wheel paddles in either ‘D’ or ‘M’ modes. For more exciting thrills when in ‘M’ mode the transmission holds each gear to the 6,800rpm redline and executes ultra-quick shifts in one-tenth of a second. Further quickening my pulse when cornering on the road or on a road course in ‘M’ mode the transmission ‘blips’ the throttle to match engine rpm to vehicle speed which helps me maintain traction and control.
Selecting Normal, Sport or Snow driving modes alters the car’s dynamic control systems to sharpen performance or increase comfort and traction. In order to perfect the IS F’s road/track dual persona, Lexus conducted IS F development work not only at Germany’s renowned Nurburgring Nordschleife racetrack, but also at Circuit Paul Ricard in France and Fuji Speedway and the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan. The shape of Turn 1 at Fuji, in fact, inspired the car’s ‘F’ badge design as homage to its home track. These facts guarantee that the IS F is a true track or road burner. Turn off the Traction Control and the IS F easily lets the rear hang out when cornering for even more fun when no one is looking on the road, and more importantly, on the road course. Numerous track-proven modifications were made to the front double-wishbone setup with high-mount upper arms, high-rate coils with bound stopper, monotube gas-filled shocks and hollow stabilizer bar. The rear multi-link setup features special low mount upper arms, high-rate coils with bound stopper, monotube gas-filled shocks and solid stabilizer bar that gives the IS F an uncanny ability to cut through curves while maintaining a refined comfortable ride. Steering couldn’t be better with a refined electric power-assist with vehicle speed sensing coaxial rack & pinion F-Sport adjustable mode. The feel is always slightly heavy but with super-quick reaction to my steering inputs. It is weighed perfectly and gives a superb feel for the road.
A Torsen rear differential helps to provide additional traction during high-speed driving. The IS F deftly integrates an array of advanced chassis control systems to help maximize braking and traction performance in the IS F. Specifically, engineers calibrated the brand’s Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system to support the car’s high dynamic capabilities. By integrating the car’s dynamic systems, and by combining input from a variety of sensors, VDIM doesn’t merely react to hazardous handling situations but rather can anticipate the onset of a skid or slide. The system can help correct the situation with a combination of braking, steering and throttle control-but of course it can be shut down to let the fun continue! In Sport mode, VDIM increases steering feel and allows higher dynamic thresholds before intervening with confidence.
Quickly slowing the IS F down from speed are world-class brakes. Brembo brakes can be found on the world’s best high-performance cars, of course they are fitted to the IS F. Up front are 14.2 in. drilled and vented discs clamped with opposed six-piston aluminum calipers with high friction brake pads, while 13.6 in. drilled and vented discs are clamped with two-piston aluminum calipers with high friction brake pads. Further helping the IS F slow are standard ABS, EBD and BA.
The new 2014 is amazing to drive, to look at and to be sitting behind the wheel. It has it all. To keep me and my passengers’ safe, the IS F comes with a long list of safety features: advanced front airbags (twin-chamber for front passenger), driver/front passenger knee airbags, front seat mounted side impact airbags, side curtain airbags, LATCH system for child seats, child-proof rear door safety locks, Smart Stop Technology with the Dynamic Radar Cruise Control, 3-point safety belts for all four seating positions including front pretensioners/load limiters, front/rear crumple zones, Safety Connect automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location and a tire pressure monitoring system. Options in my test 2014 Lexus IS F included a Hard Disc Drive Navigation system with backup camera, Lexus Enform with destination assist, eDestination, and App Suite with Bing, Pandora, Yelp, Open Table Facebook Places, Movietickets.com, iHeartRadio, Sirius XM satellite radio, NavWeather, NavTraffic, Sports, Stocks and Fuel Prices; Intuitive Park Assist with front/rear sensors, Trunk Mat, Cargo Mat, Cargo Net and Wheel Locks.
COPYRIGHT: 2013: HARVEY SCHWARTZ