2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance - Review by David Colman +VIDEO
A marvel in one attractive, affordable package
Special Correspondent to THE AUTO CHANNEL
With apologies to Thomas Wolfe, you can go home again, as Lexus has just proved. For 2022, they have resurrected the pivotal IS F Sport of 2008, an ultra high performance compact sedan that forever altered the trajectory of Lexus from a builder of luxury limousines to a builder of luxury sports cars. A dozen years ago, the IS F packed a 5 liter V8 into a mid-size sedan that sold for $59,010. Now, more than a decade later, Lexus has retrieved their seminal formula for speed with the 2022 IS 500 F SPORT Performance. F SPORT Performance is a new category for Lexus, one step below full F SPORT status. The new IS 500 carries a bargain base price of just $61,000. Like its 2008 predecessor, the 2022 version utilizes a 5 liter V8 driving the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Although curb weight has increased from 3,500lbs to 3,969lbs, horsepower has also increased from 416hp to 472hp. Power-to-weight ratio thus remains phenomenal at 8.4lbs/hp. Bottom line, the new IS 500 is one of the quickest cars on the road today, capable of posting a 0-60mph run in 4.2 seconds and scalding through the standing start quarter mile in 12.8 seconds at 112mph.
You may find comparable sport sedans from Audi, BMW, Mercedes, even Cadillac that will match these acceleration times, but you will spend more money to buy them. More importantly, none of the competition use a screaming V8 to get the job done. That Lexus quad cam, 32 valve V8 is the IS 500's trump card, its eternal ticket to the sports sedan hall of fame. When you mash the throttle on this engine, the white tachometer face instantly turns yellow as the pointer spikes to redline of 7100rpm. The accompanying crescendo of sound from the quad tailpipes ricochets off the pavement in an aural orgy that no turbo 4 or 6 can ever hope to replicate. This is without question the most responsive engine package on the sports sedan market today. Meanwhile, the competition is haplessly trying to concoct phony sound tracks to play through their speakers to emulate the visceral sound only the Lexus V8 can produce.
But the IS 500 is so much more than a driveline package. Its handling is impeccable. Lexus magic starts with a set of huge Enkei 19 inch alloy rims which measure 8.5 inches wide up front and 9.5 inches in back. A set of Bridgestone Potenza S001L radials (235/40R19 f, 265/30R19 r), with a sticky TW rating of 280, insure that when you flatten the accelerator the chassis will follow without hesitation. Lexus, working from a ton of recent race feedback that did not exist in 2009, has refined the handling capability of the IS chassis to full sports sedan specification. Up front you'll find double wishbones, coil springs, swing valve shocks and a hefty sway bar. The rear end includes independent multi- links, coil springs, swing valve Yamaha shocks and sway bar. Power is fed to the rear wheels through a Torsen limited slip differential.
Adaptive Variable Suspension is standard on the IS 500, with a quintet of suspension/shift/throttle settings available. Driver selectable Drive Modes are accessed via a large knurled knob on the central console. These offerings include Eco, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Custom. We left the Mode in Normal for freeway work, but dialed up Sport+ when we were ready to tackle some back road challenges. Turn-in is exceptionally quick, with the beefy Bridgestones taking a decisive initial bite as you hone in on your corner apex. Flatten the throttle on exit, and the rear gives a quick twitch as it copes with the full infusion of 395lb.-ft. of torque.
Ensconced in form fitting F Sport bolstered race style seats, you meld with this machine to become the best driver you can be. Thanks to a sensible dash layout where all controls are hard button and clearly labeled, driving fast in the IS 500 becomes instinctual. Unlike so many au-courant interior layouts that depend on haptic feedback and magic intuition, this Lexus is laid out for real people to control without taking their eyes off the road. The paddle shifted gearbox can be manually operated with consummate ease. When you direct the IS to do something, it acquiesces instantly. In an automotive world where new cars are programmed to override your instructions, the IS 500 does just the opposite. It obeys your directions. What a refreshing concept.
The IS 500 pays tribute to its own storied history. It's a marvel of sensible design, incredible motor, and advanced suspension engineering. If you want it all in one attractive, and eminently affordable package, it's back in action at your local Lexus sports sedan dealership. Note that Lexus is building 500 numbered Launch Edition examples of the IS 500. These are painted a new shade of gray called Incognito, and supplied with matte black forged BBS alloy rims. The Launch Edition also features black and gray Ultrasuede interior trim with silver ash wood accents, and retails for $68,475.
2022 LEXUS IS 500 F SPORT Performance
ENGINE: 5.0 liter V8, DOHC, 32 valves, dual continuously variable valve timing, aluminum block and heads
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 17MPG City/25MPG Highway
PRICE AS TESTED: $62,575
GRIPES: Subdued Interior Finish
STAR RATING: 10 Stars out of 10