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2010 Lexus IS F Review & Test Drive

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‘LEXUS DOES HIGH PERFORMANCE’

The Lexus IS F high-performance sedan is the first production model to bear the brand’s ‘F’ marque.  First launched in 2008, the new 2010 model features several technology options and new standard equipment as well as last year’s updated instrument cluster.

A Torsen Limited Slip differential, a new 19in. wheel design, and foldable rear headrests are now standard.

To further enhance your cerebral cravings when driving the IS F, iPod/USB connectivity, streaming audio via Bluetooth and an integrated XM satellite radio receiver are added to the standard Lexus Premium Sound system.  The optional Lexus Navigation system has been updated with Voice Command casual-language voice recognition and Bluetooth phonebook download capability.  The navigation system also comes with XM NavTraffic/Weather/Sports/Stocks, ready and includes a complimentary one-year trial subscription. Lexus Enform, which automatically comes with Safety Connect, is only available with navigation-equipped vehicles.  Safety Connect is standard.

The 2010 Lexus IS F has it all, a very powerful high-performance V8 engine connected to the world’ first 8-speed Sport Direct Shift automatic transmission, a high-performance-tuned double-wishbone front, and multi-link rear suspension riding on 19in. light alloy BBS aluminum wheels wrapped with Bridgestone high-performance tires.  The IS F beautifully mixes the unique body shape and all of the fine Lexus luxury, convenience, comfort and safety that you expect from any other Lexus vehicle but with a high-performance twist.

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The IS F is exclusively powered by a performance-tuned 5.0 liter, all-aluminum, 32-valve, VVT-i V8 engine teamed to an eight-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission.  The IS F engine produces 416hp at 6,600rpm and 371lb.ft. of torque at 5,200rpm.  The forged crankshaft features journals polished to a mirror finish to minimize the friction generated between the connecting rods and the crankshaft.  Forged sintered iron alloy connecting rods ensure high-rpm durability.  High-flow cylinder heads designed by Yamaha have a lightweight valvetrain, including forged cam lobs on hollow, chain-driven camshafts, with the inside of the shafts serving as oil passages.  Titanium intake valve are operated by roller rocker arms.

Several innovative technologies help to maximize efficiency and reduce emissions, including the SFT-D-4 fuel injection system (direct-to-cylinder injection system with secondary port injectors) and the electronic throttle control system with intelligence (ETCS-i).

Essentially, SFT D-4 integrates two types of fuel injection: a direct-type high-pressure fuel injection system, which provides a cooling effect in the cylinders and enables the high compression ratio (11.8:1) employed to extract maximum energy from the fuel; a set of low-pressure port fuel injectors that help produce a precise burn to optimize power and efficiency under light-and medium-load conditions.  A dual air-intake system uses a primary intake passage for low and medium engine speeds.  In the higher engine speed range (above 3,600rpm), both the primary and secondary passages are opened, helping boost high-rpm power.

With the IS F 5.0 liter V8, Lexus made a leap in valve-control technology with the Variable Valve Timing intelligence and Electronically controlled intake cam (VVT-iE).

An electric drive motor alters the intake camshaft phasing, which made it possible to expand the VVT operational range to lower engine speeds, where engine oil pressure is usually not high enough to operate VVT.  The exhaust camshaft uses hydraulically controlled variable valve timing.  A scavenge pump forces oil from the cylinder heads back to the oil pan, ensuring a reliable oil supply even during cornering that exceeds 1-g.  The low-restriction dual-exhaust system terminates in distinctive stacked quad diffusers.  What this all means is that you will have almost all of the torque from 2,000rpm up to redline, tremendous low end power at your disposal when you want or need it.

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The world’s first eight-speed Sport Direct-Shift automatic transmission combines the performance characteristics of an automated manual-type transmission with the smoothness and refinement of a planetary-type automatic transmission.  As a result you can choose between ultra-quick manual shifts for performance driving and smooth automatic shifts when convenience is the top priority.  The eight speeds allow gear ratios that maximize torque up to the tire-grip limitations in the lower range while optimizing efficiency.  Intuitive powertrain control optimally smoothes out off-the-line response.  Artificial Intelligence-SHIFT complements the Sport switch selection by automatically adapting the shifting based on road conditions and your input.  The IS F transmission is also highly responsive to uphill/downhill driving, always selecting the best gear for power or engine braking.  You can shift manually either from the console shift or steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters.  New hydraulic-control technology allows the

IS F’s eight-speed Sport Direct Shift transmission to perform on par with manual transmissions without sacrificing the smoothness of a torque-converter automatic.  Paddle-shifting operation is allowed in either D or M modes, but shifts are quicker and more direct in M mode.  In M mode, the transmission will hold each gear up to 6,000rpm, and upshifts are executed in just one-tenth of a second.  At higher engine speeds, downshifts are accompanied by automated and precise throttle blips to match engine rpm to vehicle speed.

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Pure excitement and pleasure is yours when you work the eight-speed using the paddle shifters.  The reaction time is super quick and the matching revs when downshifting is amazing.  Your heart will race and your sweat will soon bead up on your forehead as you put the IS F through its paces on the open road or around curving roads.  On the track 0-60mph comes in just above 4sec.

Matching the high-performance V8 engine and transmission is a stiff and sturdy chassis, a race-tuned suspension, big brakes and sticky high-performance tires.

The IS F is based on the robust IS platform, which was engineered from the start to allow a high dynamic envelope.  The stiff body structure and the rear subframe are connected through several reinforcements.  Much of the IS F development took place at racetracks around the world including Germany’s famed Nurburgring Nordschleife, Circuit Paul Recard in France, Japan’s Fuji Speedway and the Higashi-Fuji Technical Center in Japan.

Fuji Speedway is the IS F’s home circuit and the shape of its turn one inspired the F-logo design.

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The IS F uses the IS basic double-wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear setup but it features a multitude of track-proven modifications.  The IS F sits an inch lower on its suspension than the standard IS models, which lowers the center of gravity and enhances handling response.

Spring and damper rates are increased, and larger-diameter stabilizer bars are used.  The rear setup’s control arms are specific to the IS F to optimize geometry for the 19in. wheels.  In addition, the monotube shock absorbers use a larger-diameter piston rod.  As on other IS models, the sophisticated shock-absorber design utilizes multi-leaf linear control valves to help improve damping force, and rebound springs offer improved body control with degrading the ride comfort.

Also, subframe suspension mounts are stiffer than on other IS models to help reduce sway and ensure control under acceleration and braking.  The engine mounts are also stiffer for a more direct feel.  Special jounce stoppers on both the front and rear suspensions come into play early in the compression stroke to help reduce the sway angle when cornering and to reduce dive when braking.  The electric power steering (EPS) system has been remapped for improved steering response and feel while providing precise control and excellent straight-line control.  It feels like you are sitting in a racecar because the reaction to your steering input, throttle input are so quick and precise.  Just a little tug on the wheel moves your direction.  In the Sport mode, the IS F quickly makes work of the steep curves up, down, and around the treacherous mountain roads.

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Further increasing the IS F’s handling ability are big, lightweight BBS wheels wrapped with high-performing tires.  The front wheels are 19X8in. and are wrapped with 225/40R19in. while the rear wheels measure 19X9in. and are wrapped with 255/35R19in. Bridgestone Pontenza tires developed specifically for the 170mph track capability of the IS F.  High- rigidity hub unit bearings are engineered for rigorous, high g-force track driving.

The direct-type tire pressure monitoring system allows two sets of tires to be registered, giving you the benefit of a system with a set of track tires and winter tires.  The multi-information display indicates the tire selector switch.

The ride is never harsh, just firm, with the shocks working nicely taking the bumps out of poorly paved roads that you might travel over on your journeys.

A specially calibrated version of Lexus’ innovative Vehicle Dynamics Integrated Management (VDIM) system helps provide superior handling dynamics and traction control.  Combining input from a variety of sensors, VDIM is designed to anticipate the onset of a vehicle skid or slide and help correct the situation with a combination of braking, steering and throttle control in a way that is essentially transparent to you.  VDIM integration provides precise management for EPS, Vehicle Stability Control (VSC), traction control (TRAC), the ABS system, Brake Assist (BA), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and engine torque (via the electronically controlled throttle).

VDIM also provides an electronically controlled brake-based limited slip differential effect on the rear wheels.  During cornering, VDIM suppresses any tendency for the inside wheel to spin, transmitting more power to the outside wheel to help maintain traction and momentum.  When braking on a mixed-friction surface, VDIM will direct steering assist in the direction that will help provide the greatest control.

Using a dashboard-mounted switch, you can select Normal, Sport or Snow driving modes.  In Sport mode, VDIM allows high dynamic thresholds before intervening and alters steering assist to increase steering feel.  Sport mode helps provide excellent optimal vehicle control on a track in areas where the skills of even top-level drivers are challenged.  You can of course disengage VSC/TRAC by pressing and holding the TRAC-off button for more than three seconds.  Even with VSC/TRAC off, the system still provides the brake-based limited-slip differential and ABS as before, but the new 2010 IS F now comes standard with a Torsen rear differential that will help provide additional traction during spirited driving.

Quickly and safely slowing you down from speed are big, Brembo brakes that were designed to the specifications of the Lexus engineering team.  The 14.2in. vented, drilled front rotors are gripped by rigid and powerful six-piston aluminum calipers, while the 13.6in. vented and drilled rear rotors use two-piston calipers.  Front bumper ducts adjacent to the foglamps stream cooling air directly to each front rotor.  The brakes are finished with the Lexus name displayed on the calipers.

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The interior is as luxurious as any Lexus but the IS F also features racecar cues to differentiate it from Lexus models.  The interior features specially shaped leather trimmed racecar-styled 10-way powered, high-backed front bucket seats with extra side bolstering to keep you in place during hard cornering, and carbon fiber pattern trim on the door switch plates and center console.  The aluminum-trimmed main gauges, unique steering wheel treatment and other special surface treatments are standard.  The instrument cluster integrates an oil temperature gauge, voltmeter and shift indicator lights, and the ‘F’ logo is discretely showcased on the lower steering wheel, rear pull-down center console and outer seats cushions. You’ll also appreciate the aluminum-faced foot pedals and chrome/leather stick shifter, as you work the engine and transmission.

A multi-information display located within the speedometer integrates a trip computer that provides outside temperature, driving range, average fuel consumption, etc.  The display also includes an oil-maintainance reminder and system warning lights.

Also coming standard inside is SmartAccess keyless entry and push-button start/stop.  Standard amenities not mentioned above include dual-zone automatic climate control, a pollen filter and smog detector, power moonroof with one-touch open/close, power tilt/telescoping leather wrapped sporty steering wheel, three-position memory for front seats, steering wheel and mirrors, all power windows with automatic up/down operation, dual map lamps, dual vanity mirrors with lights, thick cut pile carpeting with floor mats, center console with dual cupholders and storage bin, cruise-control, HID headlamps, an auto-dimming reaview mirror, automated rain-sensing wipers and heated auto-dimming outside mirrors with integrated puddle lamps.

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The standard Lexus Premium Audio system features a six-disc, in-dash CD changer, 13-speakers and an integrated XM satellite radio receiver.  Automatic sound leveler maintains consistent sound levels in response to varying outside noise levels.  Convenient USB-and mini-jacks in the center console enables connection of an iPod or other portable music players.

Like all Lexus models, the IS F offers a Mark Levinson Premium Surround Sound audio system with 14-speakers, a discrete 5.1 multi-channel playback with 7.1-channel speaker architecture, 300-watts of power, and can play CD’s, DVD’s plus MP3/WMA-formatted CD’s.  DVD movies can be viewed on the navigation system’s 7in. color screen when the parking brake is engaged.

Based on the IS sport sedan, the IS F is clearly differentiated when viewed from the front, side and the rear.  A trapezoid-shaped front bumper fascia, a theme that is repeated at the rear, sets off the V-shaped grille.  The hood’s raised center section makes room for the V8 engine, and the front fenders were widened to envelop the 19in. low-profile tires.  Total grille area is increased to ensure adequate cooling for the 5.0 liter V8, and both upper and lower grilles feature a special wire-mesh pattern.  The lower grille is flanked by large brake cooling ducts adjacent to standard foglamps.  The front fenders wear a discrete silver, black and blue ‘F’ marque.  The car’s wedge-like profile is accentuated by functional front fender air outlets with lower edges that transition into larger rocker panels and continue as a character line into the rear bumper.  The rear view conveys a strong parting signature for the IS F, with dramatic trapezoid shape and easily recognizable design elements.  Four vertically stacked exhaust diffusers, two per side, are integrated into the rear bumper.  Above them, LED stop and tail behind clear lenses give the IS F a unique nighttime appearance.  The subtle rear spoiler is one of the many aerodynamic enhancements, which also include special underbody panels to optimize airflow.  Contributing to both design and performance, new 19in. forged-alloy wheels by BBS feature a dark-gray finish and an asymmetrical 10-spoke design.

The new IS F offers an all-new telematics system, Lexus Enform with Safety Connect.

Safety Connect, the cornerstone of the services, is available on both non-navigation and navigation-equipped IS F and offers four safety and security features: automatic collision notification, stolen vehicle location, emergency assistance button and enhanced roadside assistance, which adds GPS data to the already included warranty-based Lexus roadside service.

Lexus Enform, available only on navigation-equipped vehicles, includes all of the Safety Connect features and builds upon them with the premium services of Destination Assist and eDestination.  Destination Assist agents are available via the on-board cellular equipment and can help you find a specific address, a business by name, or a type of business, and even Zagat rated restaurants, and then send the coordinates to the navigation system for routing.

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Standard safety systems to keep you and your passengers safe in the event of a collision start with Lexus Passive-safety technology that includes a reinforced passenger compartment that helps protects the occupants with front and rear crush structures.  Seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters are used in all four seating positions.  In addition to advanced dual-stage front airbags and front-seat-mounted side airbags, the Lexus Supplemental Restraint System includes side-curtain airbags that extend from the A-pillar to C-pillar, plus knee airbags for the driver and front passenger.

The optional Pre-Collision System can help reduce collision damage.  The package includes Dynamic Radar Cruise Control that detects obstacles in front of the car.  The rear backup camera, included with the navigation system, automatically projects an image of what its lens can detect behind the car onto the navigation screen when the transmission is in reverse.  The optional Intuitive Park Assist system uses ultrasonic sensors to detect objects close to the car’s front and rear bumpers, alerting you and showing the distance to objects in the multi-information display within the speedometer.

The new 2010 Lexus IS F is an excellent high-performing luxury sedan along the lines of the BMW M3 and Audi S4 sedans in terms of overall performance and interior comfort, luxury and safety while saving the consumer thousands of dollars when making the decision to go with the IS F.  Prices start at $57,760.00.

COPYRIGHT:2009:HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

Price: MSRP $57,760
Type: Midsize Sedan
Where Built: Japan
EPA Class: Midsize Cars

Dimensions

Exterior
Length: 183.5 in.
Width: 71.5 in.
Height: 55.7 in.
Wheel Base: 107.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.7 in.
Curb Weight: 3780 lbs.
Gross Weight: 4660 lbs.
Interior
Front Head Room: 37.2 in.
Front Hip Room: 54.1 in.
Front Shoulder Room: 54.4 in.
Rear Head Room: 36.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room: 52.7 in.
Rear Hip Room: 53.7 in.
Front Leg Room: 43.9 in.
Rear Leg Room: 30.6 in.
Luggage Capacity: 13.3 cu. ft.
Maximum Cargo Capacity: 13 cu. ft.
Maximum Seating: 4

Performance Data

Acceleration (0-60 mph): 4.8 sec.
Braking Distance (60-0 mph): 112 ft.
Base Number of Cylinders: 8
Base Engine Size: 5 liters
Base Engine Type: V8
Horsepower: 416 hp
Max Horsepower: 6600 rpm
Torque: 371 ft-lbs.
Max Torque: 5200 rpm
Drive Type: RWD
Turning Circle: 33.5 ft.

Fuel Data

Fuel Tank Capacity: 16.9 gal.
EPA Mileage Estimates: (City/Highway/Combined)
Automatic: 16 mpg / 23 mpg / 18 mpg
Range in Miles:
Automatic: 270.4 mi. / 388.7 mi. / 304.2 mi.

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