2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance: Get Your V-8 While You Can

2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance

Competes with: Alfa Romeo Giulia QV, BMW M3, Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing, Mercedes-AMG C63

Looks like: An IS 350 F Sport with cooler wheels

Powertrain: 472-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8; eight-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Fall

The V-8-powered Lexus IS is back, but it’s not the full-on IS F that you remember — that model was discontinued in 2014, and it’s been nothing but four- and six-cylinder versions of Lexus’ compact, rear-wheel-drive-based sports sedan ever since. But Lexus figures it’s time to bring this monster back exclusively to U.S. showrooms, so it showed us this: the 2022 IS 500 F Sport Performance.

Related: Updated 2021 Lexus IS Gets Updated Pricing, Starts at $40,025

Yeah, that’s a mouthful, and it stops short of being a full-blown IS F like we remember, but it incorporates a lot of the old model’s go-fast goodies and fun styling bits into a package meant to launch Lexus’ new F Sport Performance editions. It also might be one of the last V-8 compact sports sedans you’ll ever be able to buy if current global trends towards downsized, hybridized and electrified powertrains continue apace. 

Exterior

The changes outside are subtle. Most notable are the beautiful new 19-inch Enkei split-10-spoke wheels, which are about 1 pound lighter than the standard F Sport wheels up front and 2 pounds lighter in back. To fit a bigger engine, the hood has been raised nearly 2 inches, while the front fenders and bumper are modified. Dark-chrome window trim replaces bright chrome down the sides, while new black F Sport Performance badging helps set the IS 500 apart. Out back, the tail wears a new lower rear diffuser, as well as a black rear lip spoiler and new stacked quad tailpipes. No word on if the exhaust system actually connects to those openings or if they’re merely decorative, molded pieces attached to the bumper, as they were on the prior IS F

Interior

The interior changes barely merit mention. They include F Sport Performance badging on the heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel and door-sill plates. Some new graphics on the digital gauge cluster appear when you start it up, and a standard bright-pedal kit is included, as well. The rest of the interior is unchanged from other F Sport models, which is to say it’s a combination of comfortable seats, dated styling and a new touchscreen multimedia system that debuted for the 2021 model year. 

Under the Hood

Lexus spent the development dollars on mechanical bits instead, starting with the return of the brand’s 5.0-liter V-8 engine to the IS lineup. It’s a naturally aspirated motor — no superchargers or turbochargers here — making a healthy 472 horsepower and 395 pounds-feet of torque. Despite the bigger engine, the IS 500 F Sport Performance is only 143 pounds heavier than the V-6-powered IS 350 F Sport. Lexus says this means the V-8-powered car can get from 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds yet still maintain a 24-mpg highway fuel economy rating. Power gets to the rear wheels via the IS 350’s transmission, an eight-speed automatic with selectable drive modes that include Sport S and Sport S Plus for maximum engine and transmission performance. 

The IS 500 also includes the IS 350 F Sport’s Dynamic Handling Package as standard equipment, bringing the Adaptive Variable Suspension and a Torsen limited-slip differential to the mix. Lexus says it also added a new component, a Yamaha performance damper, to the chassis to reduce “dynamic structural distortion,” according to the brand. The damper purportedly improves occupant comfort at low speeds, and provides additional stability and agility at higher speeds. The IS 500’s brakes also get an upgrade, with modifications for better cooling and a boost to rotor sizes: 14.0-inch, two-piece aluminum rotors up front and 12.7-inch rotors in the rear. 

Safety and Availability

Lexus pulled out all the stops to include every bit of electronic safety gear it has in the new IS 500. That includes a precollision system that encompasses forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian and bicyclist detection, emergency steering assist and adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go traffic function. Enhancements for model-year 2022 have improved the onboard radar systems to expand the system’s response range, as well as other sensors that improve lane recognition and lane-keeping functions. 

There’s no word yet on what the new 2022 IS 500 F Sport Performance will cost. Lexus says that information will come as we approach the sedan’s on-sale date in the fall. 

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